Day 147: Matthew 16:19

 I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.

I grew up in out in the country, five miles from the nearest town.  My dad taught me to drive in a 5-speed Volkswagen beetle when I was about 14.  After completing driver’s ed, reaching the venerable age of 16, taking a written test, demonstrating my driving abilities, and paying the fees I received my Illinois driver’s license.  And after all of that had been completed, it was a huge event in my life when my parents handed over the keys to the car and let me drive off on my own.  It represented a whole new chapter in my life.

It’s like that whenever someone gives you a set of keys.  You have to work hard and long to gain the privilege of getting the keys to your own home.  You have to prove that you are trustworthy before you are entrusted with the keys to the store or office where you work.  You know you are a special friend when someone gives you the key to their home.  And you know that you are privileged when a prophet shares with you their special insights about this life and its secrets.

In this scripture Jesus hands over the keys to the Kingdom of heaven to Peter.  He tells Peter that heaven and earth are one.  What you do on earth also happens in heaven.  It is a profound statement, and in total contradiction to what people believed about God’s Kingdom, which is also referred to as the New Age or the Messianic Age.  They believed that the Kingdom of heaven would happen sometime in the future, but Jesus said that it is already here.  Everything we do here is also done in heaven.  If you want heaven to be good, then you have to start doing things according to God’s will right here, right now.  He states it as a simple fact.  A better world isn’t going to drop out of the sky – we have to build it here.

All of this goes along with what I asserted on Day 145 on my reflection about the Messiah.  Who is the Messiah, the anointed one who will bring about a perfect world?  The Son of Man.  And who is the “Son of Man?”  Ordinary man, with all his frailty.  All humanity.  Humanity is tasked with building the Kingdom of God by living our lives in conformity to God’s will and the leading of his Holy Spirit. You and me.  Humanity.  We are invited to become citizens of the Kingdom of God right here, right now.

I am reminded of a Star Trek episode called “Arena.”  In this story Captain Kirk is forced to battle an intelligent alien reptile-creature named Gorn.  Gorn is much stronger than Kirk, and it looks as though the heroic starship captain hasn’t got a chance.  Eventually Kirk looks around and discovers that he has been given many resources – sulfur and other ingredients for gunpowder, bamboo poles that he could fashion into the barrel of a gun, and diamonds that could be used for bullets.  He went from feeling hopeless to a realization that he had everything he needed to defeat his adversary.

I think it’s a good metaphor for our life here on earth.  I think God has provided everything we need to have a beautiful world.  We have all of the necessary resources, if only we would learn to use them effectively.  I think we could have world peace.  We could have a cure for cancer and all horrible diseases.  We could stop all violence against women and children.  We could alleviate poverty and homelessness.  Jesus affirms this.  He gives Peter and all humanity the keys.  With this action Jesus invites us to enter into the Messianic Age that he described in all of those Kingdom of Heaven parables.  He came to stop the waiting and get the ball rolling.

We have the keys. Jesus has put us in charge.  Everything is in place for the Kingdom of God here on earth.  All we have to do is use those keys – all of the things Jesus has said and done – to get the thing running.  Then we need to push the pedal to the metal and take off.  There is nothing to wait for.  We already have everything we need to make it happen.  Jesus has done everything he can do.  The keys are in our hands.

What does this scripture say to you?

 

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One thought on “Day 147: Matthew 16:19

  1. Everywhere I turn these days there is discussion about the Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of
    God. I never personally have considered this a very important concept however, in the absense of our minister, my friend Richmond preached on this idea and he really touched something in me. This was about 4-5 months ago and the Kingdom of Heaven has been on my mind ever since. I am reading On God’s Side by Jim Wallis. He spends a great deal of time discussing the Kingdom of Heaven and makes it the important issue. This is a really wonderful book.

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