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New Kingdom life in troubled times

Sunday, 13 December 2020  | Christopher Brown

People of faith are stirring. Many are attending to the question of how shall we live the life of kingdom in this time of crisis and beyond, as citizens of both heaven and earth and as the collective body of Christ. Can we look beyond endurance to offer signs of new kingdom life tailored to our present times?

While there is much upheaval around us, the foundations of our life in-Christ are both firm and dynamic. The exemplar is in Jesus’ solidarity with us through his incarnation, his self-emptying, his suffering, his death and through the new life of his resurrection. To this we add his ascension and his advocacy for us at the Throne of Grace. We need this foundation. We might also long for a renewed sense of its unfolding in and through us in this moment in time.

Through engaging with Jesus and his Beatitudes we can experience his solidarity of relationship with us, offering his blessings as we acknowledge our current poverty of spirit, and guiding us through our mourning and self-emptying. The Holy Spirit transforms our emptiness into Jesus’ way of meekness and kingdom-heartedness and, with a sanctifying touch, charges our lives and our worship with both meaning and wonder. We experience a renewed passion for kingdom life, receive and channel God’s tender mercies, submit to the uncluttering of our hearts, become people of peace to offer Jesus’ way of peacemaking, and find Jesus’ courage to encounter persecution (Matt., 5:3-10).

Far more than a program to implement or an eight-step ladder to climb, the Beatitudes are blessings, promises and invitations to participate in the life and purposes of Jesus here on our virus-ridden earth.  The animating touch of the Holy Spirit syncs our troubled hearts with the pulsing heart of Jesus, depositing his life within us. Taking hold of us, the Spirit outworks this life in and through us as we come to know Jesus personally and intimately (2 Pet 1:3). In this way, we are re-shaped in the ways of the Beatitudes to be signs of the blessings of kingdom life, which is life for the world, and much needed amid our current crisis.

Christopher Brown is a spiritual director, is involved in the formation of spiritual companions and has written two books in this field - Reflected Love: Companioning in the Way of Jesus (2012) and Guiding Gideon: Awakening to Life and Faith (2015). He is co-editor of a forthcoming collection, To Whom Shall We Go: Faith Responses in a Time of Crisis. Chris is part of a writing group called Holy Scribblers.

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