John’s Gospel presents the dominion of God as a reality we can enter here and now. God’s realm is also the coming reign of justice and peace on earth as it is in heaven—a realm yet to come.
Jesus’ life speaks to the personal “kingdom within” (Luke 17:21, NKJV) and the collective “kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10, NIV). The kingdom within is the transformed presence of our minds and hearts here and now. The kingdom come is the transformation of the world through compassionate service and solidarity with the vulnerable, which is to come.
The Hebrew prophets understand something is deeply wrong with the world (God’s dominion is yet to come). The mystics understand there is something deeply right with the world (God’s dominion is already here). Both are true. But rarely do we encounter this balance. Usually, one is emphasized to the exclusion of the other. We need both; we need the ecstatic mystic reveling in the present moment and we need the lamenting prophet decrying the horrific injustices in our cities.
The prophets demonstrate the occupational hazards that come with working toward the justice of God’s “kingdom come.” By modern standards, Isaiah was manic, Jeremiah depressive, and Ezekiel psychotic. If we take a prolonged a gaze into the heart of our collective demons (corporate demons of violence, cruelty, and domination) we risk permanent damage to our hearts and psyches. Likewise, Christian mystics warn against the excesses of silent prayer for its own sake. Thomas Keating and others advocate silent prayer not as an end in itself, but as a means of becoming a more patient, reliable, and effective servant.
Activists enter the fray of the world’s injustices and risk the scarring likely to come from those encounters. Contemplatives seek the still small voice within for respite from the storms and reconnection with the joyous freedom at our source. The two together move mountains.