Brown Paper Bag TheologyIn the landscape of the “now and not yet,” the “inaugurated and not consummated,” the “sanctified and being sanctified,” it’s been extremely helpful for me to think about the concept of the kingdom of God through the idea of our world being a “beautiful mess” (think Rick McKinley’s This Beautiful Mess). The kingdom of God breaking through and invading our world is exciting and what Christians long for. Simply put, we desire miracles… and the world thinks we are crazy for it.

Yet this is the very prayer priority that Jesus showed his disciples when he taught them to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10). Followers of Jesus long for the kingdom of God to invade our sphere of living and reveal to us reality. What’s behind the veil is what we long to see.

As I’m reading through Jordan Seng’s Miracle Work, I’m struck by how this type of thinking has become more and more chastened, reserved, and even marginalized within some corners of the church. Our culture works hard to make our sovereign God seem “normal” and “reserved” and anything but miraculous. Or, as Seng says,

“Supernatural ministry is weird by definition. The practice of healing, deliverance or prophecy can certainly feel weird as we do it. But I think the biggest problem among believers is not that we think supernatural ministries are too weird; it’s that we try to make God seem normal.”

Boom goes the dynamite. When’s the last time you prayed for someone in your community simply because you saw a need and knew that your God was a miraculous God who showed up to show off his glory? Or have you gotten to the point of living reserved? Do you long for “supernatural” ministry moments? Or is that to unnatural for you? Again, we are called to pray for heaven to come to earth! Seng writes,

“In heaven, miracles would seem totally natural. Only on earth does it make sense to talk about things being supernatural. It’s precisely because supernatural things are coated in earthly grit that they seem other-than-natural to us. By definition, they’re out of place. They’re like heaven in a brown paper bag. They’re messy.

The kingdom of God is exciting. Brown paper bags are blown apart and people’s lives are transformed by the power of the Spirit as the glory of Jesus is experienced!

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