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Find the way by serving least of our ‘kin’ 

By LeRoy Hershiser
For The Register-Guard
Published: Saturday, October 31st, 2009 (reprinted here with permission)

 

In my faith-journey as a Christian, I look at the world around me. With all the competition in life, politics and, most confusingly, religion, I wonder, “How in the world, literally, can the prayer many of us Christians pray regularly, ever come to be — ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’?”

When I think of “kingdom,” I do not think of an earthly kingdom with an earthly ruler of any kind. Theologian Dominic Crossan has been helpful in answering my question of how we can bring God’s kingdom on earth. He suggests that we “consider the ‘kin’ in kingdom.”

“Who are our kin?” he asks. “Allow your consciousness to expand to include the whole earth amongst your kin.”

So, for me, “kingdom” goes far beyond place or thing. It has to do with all of us, and God’s will in our lives.

When I think of “heaven” I do not think of a place and all of the trappings one usually envisions, but as an essential presence with God. So when I pray for that perfect relationship with God “on earth as it is in heaven,” I am praying for all of God’s creation — land, sea and air, birds, animals and people. All people are equal there, all have responsibilities and all have the opportunity to experience that essential presence with God. So again I ask myself, “How on earth, literally, can this be?”

Many religions, including Christianity, at times claim that they have the only answer and they will fight to the death for their way.

When Jesus Christ proclaimed that he is “the way, the truth and the life,” I cannot see that he was talking about simply following rules and regulations, or fighting battles to satisfy God that we are “doing his will.” I don’t think any of us are wise enough to claim we have the only understanding of the perfect will of God, even if we are able to quote from our holy books. In my view, “heaven on Earth” includes no lasting victories in war or from terrorist actions, nor could it include arrogant claims used to justify murders.

To treat one another — our kin on Earth — as they are treated in heaven, with justice and right action, is my ideal.

Jesus, talking about God’s will on earth as recorded in the Bible, said, “I was hungry and you gave me food … I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Then the question: “When did we do this for you?” And Jesus replied, “When you did it unto the least of these.”

To me, that is God’s will on earth. That is what I pray for and try to put into action and service every day as humble “kin” to all of God’s creation.


LeRoy Hershiser is a retired pastor and present elder of First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. This column is coordinated by Lane Interfaith Alliance to offer inspiration, share personal spiritual experiences and bring a deeper understanding of individual faith perspectives with the intention of blessing our community and world. For more information, visit www.laneinterfaithalliance.org or call 344-5693.

 


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