I recently went snowboarding in the South Island with an old group of friends (or was that a group of ‘old’ friends!). Aside from the comedy of our attempts to recreate the energy and staying power of our 20’s, the highlight for me was spending a few days under the ‘big sky’ of the southern alps — pristine lakes and golden tussock grass with those rugged white peaks that a child’s imagination couldn’t exaggerate. I always feel my mind expand when I’m back down south. This recent trip reminded me that our stunning hope and source of joy as Christians is that we live under an eternal sky, with a horizon line stretching towards a world without end, as the apostle Paul describes it.
This gives huge significance to every part of our lives, not just the good and productive bits, but also the challenges, losses, illnesses and failures. The vision of the Kingdom of God is that one day when Jesus returns, our lives will be swept up into this new reality. Rather than being washed away, everything we have sown into this life will be preserved and made full. What a challenging and potentially freeing way of seeing life!
First the challenge. One of the most powerful dynamics of our cultural set-up is the idea that you own what you make, or put another way, you reap what you sow. We spend our lives building our personal resources, career, and family to varying degrees. But here’s where the vision of the Kingdom becomes subversive to the point of scandalous. In this vision we get to sow into something much bigger than ourselves. Sowing into this Kingdom may feel like a less tangible or secure venture but, ironically, it’s the only truly
guaranteed investment on the market. What’s more, it allows us to give ourselves more freely because we’re released from the need to protect our patch. Paul reminds the young church in Corinth that everything we do feeds into God’s bigger Kingdom project.
As he says, Paul planted, Apollos watered, but it’s God who grows the garden as the source of life. Today we’re saying farewell to Blake from our clergy team and thanking him for his investment into this community of faith over the last few years. In his time here he’s been a thoughtful teacher, a vibrant communicator, and an attentive pastor. In the economy of the Kingdom, we want to thank Blake for the life and potential he has sown into our ground, and we pray that in his next assignment he will also reap the blessing of what others have sown ahead of him.
So let’s celebrate and practice the scandalous economics of the Kingdom. As we scatter seed in the daily contexts of our lives with Spirit inspired abandon, we’re investing in the eternal Kingdom of grace, where nothing is lost and all is gain. As the great Christian philosopher and pastor Jonathan Edwards once said: “the best is yet to come”!