The Kingdom

*After I have accepted Godís loving gaze on me, I offer my whole self to Him.

* Then I remember Jesus accepting God's loving gaze on Him, as He moved around His homeland. I let my imagination move me into the little towns He was in, the synagogues, the roads He walked.

* Now I am ready to ask God for what I want: Here, I want to be the kind of person who will hear when Jesus Christ the King summons me, and not be shy or hang back, by quick and persevering in following His lead.

The First Part is a fantasy.

Imagine a grand nation with a tremendous people. See how they have been troubled and tested. For their nation's affairs have gotten badly botched. They feel tense and worried. Now imagine that they get a new leader. This leader sounds solid. A person who seems to have been handpicked by God for this people. The leader has unsurpassed charisma, is a physically beautiful person, shows tremendous political adroitness, makes people believe that good times are definitely on the way. Imagine that the people grow very, very content.

Then imagine for yourself the program that this fresh, excellent leader proposes for the people. With care and resoluteness, the nation's enemies can be overcome or won over. The economy needs careful overhauling ? but it will be painful. Civil rights have eroded. Education stumbles along in disarray. Any program that could possibly succeed will require a lot of belt?tightening, and many groups will have to work through some very tough questions together.

Then, imagine that the leader gathers a special group. To this group, the leader gives a personal invitation. He gathers you and stands before you. Imagine that you sit right in front, listening. "I am going to inaugurate this program. I am going to see that it succeeds. Anyone who wants to work with me on it will have to put up with what I will put up with - extravagantly long hours, pitilessly hard work, going without not just luxuries but even without basic comforts, getting battered by public opinion and the media, and actually running the risk of being assassinated. But I can tell anyone who listens: This program will succeed and make millions of people's lives vastly better.

Change the fantasy and imagine that everyone has left. You sit alone. You wonder, What kind of person could reject such an invitation? What kind of person could accept it? Would I accept that invitation? Would I want to work with that kind of leader? Suppose I left that special group and walked away from the charismatic leader ? what would I feel about myself later on? And you imagine accepting the invitation. What do you do? After a while, gently end the fantasy.

The Second Part uses the imagination but remains rooted in the real. I just apply my fantasy to Jesus Christ.
If a charismatic secular leader could demand loyalty (and many less excellent ones get unquestioning loyalty from their friends), what about Jesus Christ, whom God has made eternal King?

I let my fancy roam. I imagine Jesus surrounded by 72 disciples. They sit on a hill. Jesus talks with them, saying something like this: "It is my will to win over the whole of humankind. No enemy can defeat me or finally interfere with my Kingdom. I will draw all to myself. I will stay with my friends and we will labor and struggle, watch and pray. No one will have to go through anything that I do not myself go through. Whoever works with me and suffers with me will also share the glory of the Kingdom with me. I assure you, I will see my project crowned with total success." After feeling how wonderfully attractive Jesus' invitation is, gently end the fantasy.

Then consider that anyone with any sense at all will follow Jesus Christ. Consider this: some might want to walk more closely with Jesus Christ in this enterprise, though they cannot explain their desiring. If you feel inclined to do so, formally say this prayer to Jesus Christ:

I feel Your gaze on me.
I sense that Your Mother stands near, watching,
and that with You are all the great beings of heaven
angels and powers and martyrs and saints.
Lord Jesus, I think You have put a desire in me.
If You will help me, please,
I would like to make my offering:
I want it to be my desire, and my choice,
provided that You want it, too,
to live my life as You lived Yours.
I know that You lived an insignificant person in a little, despised town;
I know that You rarely tasted luxury and never, privilege,
and that You resolutely refused to accept power.
I know that You suffered rejection by leaders, abandonment by friends, and failure.
I know. I can hardly bear the thought of it all.
But it seems a toweringly wonderful thing that You might call me to follow You and stand with You.
I will labor with You to bring God's reign,
if You will give me the gift to do it.