Seeking First the Kingdom
The following is an excerpt from the student anthology, “Blessed Journey” which was distributed at the ten-year anniversary of SCORR. The theme for that year was, “On Earth as it is in Heaven.”
“Why did you feel the conference was necessary and specifically why did you start the conference?” were questions asked of me by a writer who was seeking information regarding the ten year anniversary of the Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation. “That’s a huge question” I responded. The writer I was speaking to concurred. I was immediately faced with the many layers that comprised the reality we face as believers committed to the lifelong process of reconciliation. In other words, there were many layers latent in the answer to the question of why I felt the Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation to be necessary. I gave various items that validated the necessity of the conference such as students of color feeling isolated and marginalized in the Christian college/university context; the lack of diversity in students’ curricular and co-curricular education; the need to facilitate student’s ethnic identity development; the need to be ministered to holistically; the need to address the biblical basis for reconciliation; and the need to be equipped for a future in a diverse workforce. All of these topics are essential in our spiritual and educational development and are deserving of further attention as topics of discussion in verbal or written form. Much of these topics are sorely lacking in our education experience and thus, make the need for a SCORR conference even more of a pressing need.
The need is as great as it has ever been. It has been a long and challenging road. It has been both a joyous and painful journey. One thing seems to resonate as the years go by, the more I do the ministry of racial reconciliation, the more biblical it becomes. Obviously, the mandate to cross cultural borders and build people up across societal divisions always was and has been in the Bible; it’s my awareness and understanding that keeps expanding. One major theme in this process is the centrality of the Kingdom of God. Paul writes in Colossians that we are “delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13); Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount teaches us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). The Kingdom of God is both a present day reality as well as one that is to come. Hence, our theme for SCORR’s ten-year anniversary comes from our Lord’s instruction to us when He instructs us to pray in this manner, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10). Our “citizenship is in heaven,” yet we function day to day here on earth. We are delivered from the kingdom of darkness and look forward to being in glory. In between these two realities, the Christian walks on this earth as a citizen of another world. How should we then live? What vision do we have as a result of this reality? A reminder of these biblical principles may be of help.
On Earth. We live in a fallen world where sin manifests itself by way of racism, sexism, classism and a host of other kinds of oppression. The peoples of the world are divided, nations rising up against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms. This world more than ever is in need of Jesus and a true witness from His Body. The sad reality is that the Christian church is among the most divided of institutions; 11:00 am on Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour of the week. Christian colleges/universities also lag behind in progress with secular universities regarding diversity efforts. This world is not our home, thus we should “pursue peace with all, and holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).
In Heaven. Around the throne of God there is a multitude that has been redeemed to God, by the blood of Jesus, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. They have been made kings and priests to their God (Rev. 4:9-10). Around the throne of God there is worship. There is no more oppression. God is exalted and around Him are people redeemed from all people groups, from all of humanity. God wipes away every tear from their eyes, no more death, or sorrow, or crying. No more pain. The former things have passed away (Rev. 21:4). No more thirst, only the fountain of the water of life (Rev. 21:6). The diversity of peoples in heaven will be incredible! Justice and peace will finally be realized. The Shalom of God will be the norm. All nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues will reign with Him forever.
On Earth as it is in Heaven. The kingdom of God was one of the major themes that Jesus taught during His earthly ministry. He often ministered to those who were marginalized. He purposely crossed social barriers (John 4:7-24). His was a message of liberation as well as salvation (Luke 4:18-19). For God’s Kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven,” the examples and teaching of the Lord Jesus must be active in our midst. The church is His Body and must be an active partner in His building of His kingdom. Just as Jesus was active in ministering to those marginalized, crossing social barriers and reconciling peoples at odds with one another, so should we as His Body. Though people may be oppressed and marginalized in this world, they should find refuge in the Body of Christ. Thus, the Kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God should be in stark contrast. The building of God’s kingdom necessitates the ministry of racial reconciliation. Hence, a multitude of diverse people should worship together more often. Ministries of social justice among the poor and oppressed should be appropriated alongside our evangelistic efforts. Christian colleges/universities should reflect a diverse and just climate manifested by our leadership, our faculty, our curriculum, and our development of students into kingdom citizens. May the world one day behold, by our witness, that the Kingdom of God is “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).
Why is the Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation necessary? To equip students with vision and skills to build the Kingdom of God on earth. His Kingdom encompasses people of all ethnic backgrounds. His Kingdom is just. His Kingdom is where He rules. May we continue to grow in grace and in knowledge of our God. May we partner with Him in the expanding of His Kingdom. May we echo the prayer, “Your Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven.”