Sometimes when I feel the pain of life, whether my own or that of others, I just long for the kingdom of God to become fully realised in this world. I recall the words of the U2 song, Peace on Earth: “Heaven on Earth, we need it now. I’m sick of all of this hanging around…sick of the sorrow, sick of the pain.”
I relate to that. I’m sick of the pain, I just want justice, peace and love to rule the world now.
This morning at church we remembered the passing of a much-loved member of our congregation. He died two years ago today. At the end of the service we sang a song he wrote before he died. The lyrics are as follows:
Our home, unseen, far away from here. Your world, our hope, must be believed to be seen
All creation groans, longing for our home. Lord we are calling, for your kingdom come
As in heaven, on earth. Lord, may your will be done.
Lord we are longing for your kingdom come. We are not of this world; we are pilgrims in life.
Meanwhile we wait; people of faith stand true. Our world we love, waiting to be made new.
All creation groan, longing for our home
Lord we are calling, for your kingdom come. As in heaven, on earth, Lord, may your will be done.
Lord we are longing, for your kingdom come. We are not of this world, we are pilgrims in life
I didn’t know Tim. He passed away the week I started going to the church he was such a part of. But as I sang this song this morning, the lump in my throat grew as I felt my soul groaning for God’s kingdom to be finally, fully realised here on Earth. I felt the pain of Tim’s loss and the grief that came to our church when he passed on. I felt sick of the pain of this world.
In recent years I have cringed when Christians say we are not of this world. Or, the more well-known line, “this world is not my home, I’m just passing through”. That line is often used to mean that we are destined for heaven when we die, that that is our real home, not here on Earth. This of course is not true; we are not destined for heaven when we die. We are destined for the new heaven and the new Earth right here.
And that is exactly what this song is saying. When I sang this morning, “We are not of this world”, I could resonate. I don’t feel a part of this world of pain and suffering. I want more than this.
It is true that this world is not my home; this world as it currently is, with death, tears and pain. We are built for more. It is normal for us to feel alien in a world where there is death, pain, injustice and war.
As I feel the longing for more, that there has to be more than this, that there is more to this, I hear the Psalmist cry out, “how long O Lord?!”, and I resonate with John the Revelator as he ends the Scriptures with the plea, “Come Lord Jesus”.
One day it will be so. There will be no more tears, no more pain and no more death, for the old order of things will have passed away. Until then, the cry goes on, “How long O Lord?”