The photo challenge word for today is “World.” At first I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do – what one image could possibly capture the wonder of God’s creation?? So many possibilities! I was thinking color, and nature, and people … (okay, I’m often thinking color.)
And then I read today’s reflection on the Rethink Church blog. “Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.”
WAIT. Wait wait wait. No. We can’t possibly boil down all the things that our world is – all the beauty and hope and pain and sadness and love and everything else – into simply “the things that tempt us,” as if we as Christians are living perfectly virtuous lives totally apart from the sinful mortal world, in expectation of some other reality in which we will be rewarded for how little we have allowed ourselves to be polluted.
No thank you. I know that kind of theology exists, and I know it’s dangerous. But our world is created by God*, our flesh is created by God, and there is enough of the sacred in each and every human life that in Jesus a human person was a worthy bearer of God emself. The kingdom of God is at hand. That kingdom is possible and real and glimmers through the grit of our world when we live as if that kingdom is now.
* * *
But, because the internet is awesome, I had a good conversation with Sophia at @umrethinkchurch, and she challenged me to sit with that verse from Luke. “Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.”
I actually really like this verse. And if I let this be about “the kingdoms of the world” instead of just “the world,” then it’s got a lot to say for us in Lent as well. Because the world’s kingdoms are that which God’s kingdom defies. The world’s kingdoms are not part of God’s creation.
The world’s kingdoms are about power, and corporate greed, and death for the sake of our false idols of nationalism and capitalism and racism. The world’s kingdoms are tempting, because they promise eternal glory. They promise power, but it’s power at the expense of all others. It’s abusive, dominant power, which drives people into debt and bankruptcy for the sake of the bottom line.
And during Lent, we are challenged to set ourselves apart. We are challenged to look down upon the kingdoms of the world and say NO. We serve something greater.
So here’s what I ended up with. The (kingdoms of this) world:
* I don’t mean literally, of course.
Oh, and if you want pronoun lessons: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/emself