In the chapter (7) I just finished reading, Augsburger articulates the traditional “two-kingdom” theory that most Anabaptist/Mennonites have held for centuries. This made perfect sense for a persecuted and fleeing minority in 16th century central Europe and beyond but it is presently problematic in numerous ways which I will not get into at this time. I have problems with a few other details in this chapter but my purpose in the present reading is not to be critical but to be inspirational so I will focus on a few quotes I find helpful for my personal and communal present.

The chapter opens with: “One of the most revolutionary convictions one can hold is to believe in the present, spiritual, universal kingdom of Christ and to give it loyalty above all else” And then goes on to emphasize that “[the] conviction of the Christian church regarding the ultimate destiny of [humankind] and the world is severed from its roots if it speaks only of a future happening in Christ’s return. It must also see the faith as grounded in the resurrection and being currently expressed in the building of the kingdom moving toward its fuller expression.” [italic emphasis mine] It is about God’s resurrection power in personal spirituality but I would add that it also has profound relational, social, economic, ecological, and political implications. God’s reign of SHALOM is about all of life. The important thing is that it is primarily present and current and not about some pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by. This reminds me of another quote from an old Anabaptist classic: H.S. Bender’s “Anabaptist Vision” of 1946. “The Anabaptist vision was not a detailed blueprint for the reconstruction of human society, but the Brethren did believe that Jesus intended that the kingdom of God should be set up in the midst of the earth, here and now, and this they proposed to do forthwith.”

“One cannot fully experience the new birth (resurrected life) without discovering what it means to love all people, to do violence to no one, and to live modestly in the midst of status-seeking humanity. The new life calls us to show love for our neighbour. Today as never before we must find ways to minister to the needy, to share the world’s resources with the malnourished, and to bring deliverance to the suffering.” So, what does this mean for me on an ordinary day in the spring of 2019? Perhaps with a bit more intentionality, I will continue my work of preparing a lecture and sermon on a subversive economic spirituality from Luke 16, cycle home, tend my suburban garden, and invite a neighbour who is lonely over for dinner. What will it mean for you?