A key theological orientation for the Vineyard is what we call Kingdom theology. I've been teaching a course on eschatology in North America and spoke a lot about the development of this way of thinking about God's reign. Vineyards tend to promote an understanding of the Kingdom as being a tension between the work of God in the now and the final anticipated consummation of that work in the not yet. Today I'm living out an object lesson on this tension.
A month and a bit ago we bought a new house. We signed the agreements, lined up the financing, and it is a done deal. However, closing is today. So we signed some more paper, got the financing to kick in, and now we await a phone call to say we can move in.
The interesting thing is that while it was exciting to sign the initial agreements - it is as the day got closer that our anticipation grew stronger. We have had lots to do while we waited. We've been packing and purging. We've been renovating and buying materials to fix up our current house so we can get as much as possible for it when we sell. We have been living in the implications of what had started when we signed the document that said we agreed to purchase this new home. There have even been times when we've been able to experience the new home in a limited way (we bought a home from friends).
This is similar to the Christian life where Jesus became the yes and amen of all God's promises through his death and resurrection. It was Jesus signing the deal to agree to purchase us. In many senses it is a done deal. And in the light of that done deal we have real moments when we experience the future Jesus has for us. We call those inbreakings of the Kingdom (or the future of God). Much cooler than being let in by the former owners so I can store my tires! When we experience the Kingdom we experience the justice, healing, redemption, and salvation that God has promised and guaranteed through Jesus, God's yes and amen.
But our experience of the world is one of anticipation. This is the most powerful idea in a view of the Kingdom as tension. As we experience a world that is still full of brokenness, sickness, and sin we grow in our longing for the final consummation of the Kingdom, when the King will return. This anticipation grows in us, just as the anticipation of our new home grows when we pass by it in our car every day (it is just down the street from our current home). The more we see the Kingdom breaking in the more we realize how awesome the return of the King will be. The creative edge is that in the tension between what we experience of this present reality and what we know of the promise of God, in that tension we are propelled to act in cooperation with God's Kingdom purposes for our world. We pray for the sick, reach out to the lost, work for justice, and overcome the ravages of sin. This is what I believe Paul means about living in the power of the resurrection. And it is much more awesome than a new house.
But for today, a new house is pretty cool.
Come Lord Jesus!
Frank Emanuel - Ontario Region