Forgetting the Kingdom

Blogger Merle Harton, Jr., in commenting (see June 25 post) a the personhood piece I did for CT.

In the debate over ethical issues, he says, Christian>s are missing the point.

That point is to come to terms with our place in the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God, where the first are last, where you save your life by dying, where you sell all you have and come and follow Jesus, where you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, where love for neighbor is the highest law of human interaction, and where life is defined by picking up a cross daily, is missing from most American Christianity these days.

What we are left with are mostly debates over what we can get away and still be called Christian.

Over the past few weeks, I've spend most of my time poring over the life of Paul Carlson, a missionary doctor murdered in Congo in 1964. Carlson's life was shaped the kingdom of God. He gave up a promising surgical practice for the priviledge of serving in a tiny hospital in a forgetten corner of Congo, treating 200 patients a day, working 18 hour days as the only doctor for 100,000 people--all for about 3,000 a year (or 1/4 of his pay back home.)

When Carlson was taken hostage, he continued to work as a doctor--treating his captors and fellow hostages alike. He had no hero complex--afraid of the fate that awaited him, he agonized over his decision to stay. He was killed just minutes before being rescued.

There's no moral to the story here. At least not a neat, purpose driven life one. If there was it'd be this--choosing to live in the kingdom of God will get you killed.

Or maybe that is the moral. The kingdom of God is about dying--giving up everything you hold dear, and holding on to God. Even when it costs you everything.

All our debates: abortion, sex, stem cellls, war, peace, money, taxes, terrorism, all start to look different in the light of the kingdom. And I am afraid that most of the solutions are things ones we don't want to hear.


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