Kingdom of God

Kingdom Metaphors 2: The Dream of God

In his book The Secret Message of Jesus Brian McLaren offers several metaphors to help get our minds around the meaning of “The Kingdom of God.” Today’s kingdom metaphor is “The Dream of God.”
“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This prayer of Jesus seems to be an urgent plea for God to bring His Kingdom reality to earth as in heaven. Here Jesus equates the Kingdom with God’s will being actualized. Brian McLaren draws from this insight in suggesting a second metaphor.

“Since the language of “will” can take us down a trail of control, domination, and coercion, and since I don’t believe those ideas are in Jesus’ mind at all, I have looked for other words. The Greek word that lies beneath our English word will can also be translated wish. But to say, “May your wish come true” sounds rather fairy-tale-ish and creates other problems. But I have found the idea of “the dream of God for creation” does the job quite nicely. “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” could thus be rendered “May all your dreams for your creation come true.” This language suggests a more personal, less mechanistic relationship between God and our world. It would resonate, for example, with a mother who has great dreams for her child, or a coach who has great dreams for her team, or an artist who has great dreams for a novel or painting or symphony he is creating, or a teacher who has highs dreams for his students.

It also gives us language to talk about evil and sin in the world: these are nightmares for God. In creating our world, God wasn’t dreaming of prisons and kidnapping, child abuse and racism, greed and poverty, pollution and exploitation, conformity and chaos. God’s dream was for freedom and creativity, kindness and justice, generosity and peace, diversity and harmony.

This metaphor also gives us a responsible and creative role to play. If we dream of using or controlling others, raping the environment, ignoring the poor, perpetrating racism and other forms of injustice, or simply being lazy or selfish, we are ruining God’s dream: our dreams are opposing God’s dreams. The call to repentance is the call to rethink our dreams and realize their incompleteness or even destructiveness. The call to faith is the call to trust God and God’s dreams enough to realign our dreams with God’s, to dream our little dreams within God’s big dream. The call to receptivity is the call to continually receive God’s dreams—a process that, in my experience at least, seems to be a lifelong one. The call to baptism is the call to publicly identify with God’s dream and to disassociate with all competing –isms or ideologies that claim to provide the ultimate dream (including nationalism, consumerism, hedonism, conservatism, liberalism, and so on). And the call to practice is the call to learn to live the way God dreams for us to live” (The Secret Message of Jesus, pg. 140-142).

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