Behold, I Make All Things New – Br. David Vryhof
Marked as Christ’s Own Forever (S.S.J.E)
For the past few weeks we have been considering the Mission of God in the world by looking at the Anglican Communion’s “Five Marks of Mission.” We have been asking ourselves, “What is it that God is doing, in our lives and in the world? What is God’s mission and purpose? What does God care about most passionately?” For this week, we examine the Fourth Mark of Mission, which is “to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation.”
Transformation is at the heart of the Gospel message. God is transforming us individually, making each of us a “new creation” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). But God is also transforming us collectively, along with the whole Creation: “Behold, I make all things new,” says the One seated upon the Throne in the book of Revelation (Rev. 21:5). God’s work of transformation, then, is personal and spiritual, and it is communal, social and political. God cares about us as individuals, but God also cares about our life together.
Similarly, the Good News preached by Jesus is not only personal and spiritual, but also communal, social and political. Jesus comes announcing that “the kingdom of God has come near” and urging people to “repent and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). The repentance he requires is not just a turning away from personal sin, but the transformation of social and political systems that elevate some at the expense of others.
“Kingdom” is a political term, and although Jesus could have spoken of the “family of God” or the “community of God,” he chose to speak of the “kingdom of God,” a kingdom that stood in stark contrast to the kingdoms of Herod and of Caesar, with which his hearers were very familiar. He taught his followers to pray that God’s kingdom would come “on earth” as it already is in heaven – he meant right now, in this life, not just in the after-life.
In this kingdom, this transformed community, the powerful are brought down from their thrones and the lowly are lifted up; the hungry are filled with good things while the rich are sent away empty (Luke 2:52,53). In this kingdom, the poor are blessed and those who weep learn to laugh (Luke 6:20,21). Jesus tells us that it is for this reason that he was sent into the world: “to bring good news to the poor,” “to proclaim release to the captives,” “to let the oppressed go free,” “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18,19).
Jesus not only teaches about this new kingdom, he embodies it by befriending “tax collectors and sinners;” by associating with the poor, the sick and the marginalized; by challenging the religious and political powers of his day. – Br. David Vryhof. You can get your copy of The Five Marks of Love by visiting, http://ssje.org