What will the Kingdom of God look like in the future?
Hint: There are no experts!
Are you an “expert?” Management guru Peter Drucker once told a group of experts who sought his predictions for the future, “If you are ever so foolish as to make predictions for the future, predict a thing that has already happened.”
In technology, several notable experts are on record with powerful predictions: It has been widely reported that Charles H. Duell, the Commissioner of US patent office in 1899, said “everything that can be invented has been invented.” Thomas J Watson of IBM once predicted that the world-wide annual demand for computers might someday be as high as four per year! And Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft CTO, in 1996, said: “Apple is already dead.”
In entertainment, in 1962 Decca Recording rejected a contract with The Beatles, saying: “Guitar music is on the way out.”
In 1904, a French physician declared that high speeds shut down the brain, since “an auto running at the rate of 80 miles per hour is running without the guidance of the brain, and the many disastrous results are not to be marveled at.”
During Jesus’ life, he decried the failure of experts who can forecast the weather, but do not know who is standing right in front of them. John recorded that God the Father parted the clouds, and spoke openly to a gathering of believing Jews, “This is my son, listen to him.” Yet, only a few recognized it as God’s voice. Others debated whether it was the sound of thunder or the voice of an angel. Even a common, shared divine experience can be misunderstood or misrepresented. We have a large capacity for self-deception and misunderstanding, even when we are eye-witnesses.
Many modern day Christian apostles, prophets and theologians do not appear to be any better at predicting the future than their secular counterparts. St. Paul urged believers to remain watchful for Jesus’ return. Since 50 A.D., more than 50 seers or theologians have predicted dates for the 2nd coming, including the recent fascinations with blood moons. Each new prediction causes believers to divert thousands of hours and many millions of dollars to travel, conferences, books, magazines, and to make preparation for Jesus’ return (rapture robes + guns, gold and groceries in cities of refuge or caves). Some authors have predicted the transformation of society either for good (e.g. “A Glorious Eschatology”) or for evil (e.g. “The Late Great Planet Earth”), selecting Biblical texts to support either the rise or the decline of Christian influence in the world.
So, given that there no experts on the future, you have little to risk and nothing to lose by venturing a few guesses about what the Kingdom of God might look like? So, take a little time and ponder these questions:
In the Kingdom of God, as you envision it….
Food security and nutrition
- Who is still hungry? Where? Why? When?
- What nutritional diseases and conditions exist? What is the occurrence of obesity? Diabetes? Asthma? High blood pressure?
- How is food grown, harvested, processed, stored?
Medical and Health care
- Who is sick? Injured?
- What chronic illnesses remain?
- What is the role of medicine? Diet, Exercise and Nutrition? Prayer and faith?
- How long do people live?
- Are there people with genetic abnormalities? Congenital defects? Permanent disabilities?
Conflict resolution and justice
- How do people resolve their own internal distress, anxiety, anger, depression, and lack of peace?
- How do people resolve interpersonal tension and conflicts?
- What is the role of courts, mediators, and arbitrators?
- How are fights, conflicts, and wars prevented or resolved?
- Is there systemic bias, inequity and injustice? How is it prevented or resolved?
Arts and Entertainment
- Are people free to express their love, hate, and other passions in artistic media?
- Are there any banned or forbidden subjects, styles or forms of expression?
- Are there rewards or penalties for different expressions? Who adjudicates them, and how?
- What is the balance of truth and opinion in the media?
- How is truth rewarded? Is error punished? Who administers reward and punishment? What are the standards?
- What is the role of property? Is ownership private? Common?
- What is the role of debt?
- How is laziness handled?
- How is inability or disability handled?
- What opportunities exist for rewarding wisdom and prudent risk taking?
- Are there servants? Masters? Owners? Employees?
- What is the role of government?
- How are leaders placed in authority or removed from authority? Appointed? Elected? Other?
- What rewards or penalties are given to government leaders?
- Who is responsible for basic education of children?
- Who is responsible for the advanced education of adults?
- Who is responsible for continuing education?
- What standards, criteria, and values are used in the preparation of curriculum?
- What standards are used to measure the delivery of education, and progress in learning?
- What is family? Are there any prescribed or proscribed forms of inter-personal or intra-familiar relationship?
- How are disagreements, conflict and family resolved?
- What resources exist outside the family to model excellence and mediate resolution of conflict?
- What the role of faith in each element of the Kingdom above?
- What role do Kingdom leaders have?
- Where there are institutions, congregations, associations or other group(s) of the faithful, how are they formed, led and supported?
- What role do these groups have in the Kingdom?
As you may surmise, Kingdom life is neither unidimensional (e.g. “It’s all about souls. Just get everybody saved, and we’ll all be happy”) nor easy. Everyone has a one to one relationship with God, and all have relationships with other people. Disagreements, misunderstandings, and accidents will all occur even if no one is intentionally evil.
As a closing thought, consider that after the 2nd coming, after the Millennium, and after the New Heaven and the New Earth are here and the Devil and his angels are all in the lake of fire together with everyone whose name was not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life, there will still be problems. Why? Because there will still be free will. How do we know? Consider this passage from Revelation 21:23-27 ESV. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day–and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Three surprising observations: (1) There will be Kings, but not everyone will be a king. (2) Kings will bring tribute into the City. (3) Some people present in the new heavens and earth will not enter the City.
May the Lord bless your imagination and faith, as you continue the process of envisioning the fulfillment of your assignment in bringing the Kingdom of God in your lifetime!