The Kingdom of God is at hand!


            Based on a quick word study of the King James Bible, Jesus talked more about the Kingdom of God (54) and the Kingdom of heaven (32) nearly four times more than he spoke of Hell (15), and the 'wailing and gnashing of teeth' (7).  As real or unreal as you believe hell to be, we might want to do some investigation into what this Kingdom is all about.

 (Mark 1:15 RSV)  "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."

      In this one verse, Jesus is pointing to at least part of the gospel - good news.  The good news is about the Kingdom.  It begins with the fact that the time is fulfilled, we are working now in God's perfect timing here.  Jesus makes a profound statement about the Kingdom, which we will discuss later, and then gives us the appropriate response to this good news. 

      But what do we really think about when you hear about the Kingdom of Heaven/God?  I bet it is the description of the New Jerusalem found in Revelation 21 with the "Streets of gold, Crystal Sea, Great White throne, Cherubim and Seraphim".  We dream of a place where there are no more tears, no more suffering, we get reunited with our loved ones... this may all come to pass, and I am convinced the fullness of the presence of God in the all in all will be wonderful, but I do not think this is what Jesus was preaching about.

     What is a kingdom?  Generically, a kingdom is where a king reigns; it is to where the will of the king is being done.  When a king can no longer influence a piece of real estate, it is no longer part of the kingdom because he does not reign as king there.  "The Kingdom of God is the reign of God and not primarily a place."

     But God reigns everywhere, right?  I am not so sure. Why are there still sin and destruction and violence?  Is it the will of God?  It sure does not sound like we have the fullness of God in His all in all here.  Lets look at the temptation of Christ in the wilderness.  (Luke 4:5-7 RSV)  And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, {6} and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. {7} If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours."  In Jesus' refutation of the devil, Jesus did not correct Satan about his authority here, just that we are to serve God alone.  Indeed, it seems we are in the time of binding up the strong man as we plunder his house (mark 3:270, and begin to see the King reign here, in our hearts.

     So, where does Jesus say the Kingdom is?  At Hand! We have a couple of options as to what "at hand" means.  One is close in time the other, close in proximity. John the Baptist preached the same message in (Mat 3:2 RSV)  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  At that time, the Kingdom was close in time.... Jesus was coming soon, in the flesh, to introduce the Kingdom to this world in a whole new way.  But when Jesus came and preached, the Kingdom "moved".  Now, I would like to share some verses to indicate where I believe the Kingdom "moved":

 From Luke 10, the sending of the 70:  (Luke 10:9 RSV)  heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'

When Jesus was accused of casting out demons in the name of Satan:  (Luke 11:20 RSV)  But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Finally when talking to some Pharisees about the end times...  (Luke 17:20-21 RSV)  Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; {21} nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you."  And in the KJV is says “for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

   If we are seeing the power of God heal people, and we see people delivered from bondage, and we see God reigning in our hearts, then indeed, the Kingdom of God is no longer something to wait for in the sweet bye and bye, it is something to be walked in even today.  To the extent that we let God reign in our lives now, we walk in the Kingdom NOW. This is good news!

      As the results of this movement of the Kingdom…

(The in-breaking of the Kingdom into our lives) we find:

1. God can really reign in our hearts today.

2. When we begin to walk in the Kingdom, neat stuff will happen.

3. God is working in the world today - we can see the Kingdom in our lives. 

4. “Miracles” are not extraordinary, but ordinary.

5. The fruits of the Kingdom are available - Love: peace, joy etc

     So, what is the appropriate response to this good news?  Repent! And Believe this Good News. Now I am not just talking about just giving cognitive assent.  I am talking about having our whole outlook on life, death and all in between changed by God.  It’s kind of like being born all over again, from above.  Jesus said to Nicodemus, (in the Nick at night episode)  (John 3:3 RSV) “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  If we are not seeing the Kingdom of God breaking into our lives, and the lives of folks around us, we might want to rethink what our faith is all about.

     And so, believing this good news should change how we live... As in the parable of the Kingdom of God is like a treasure in a field, (Mat 13:44 RSV)  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  If we really find the Kingdom, we begin to sell all we have to buy into it.  Now I am not talking about money here, I am talking about selling out our lives for it.  It means making walking with God the 1st priority of our lives. These are the seeds of the "radical discipleship" to the God of Jesus Christ.

 And so, I leave you with some basic questions:  Can we see the Kingdom of God today?  (Do we want to?)  Are we walking in the Kingdom of God today?  If so, is it good news?   If it really is good news, don't you think we ought to share it?