Sunday, May 9, 2010
THE “GOOD NEWS” OF GOD’S KINGDOM
Double Rainbow, Internert Domain
Think Differently, Central North Carolina
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’, or ‘There it is’, because the kingdom of God is within you (and among you).”
This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. –Revelation 21:2,4
I don’t know about you, but over the past years as I studied various books of the Bible, I encountered various references to the kingdom of God and had become a bit confused as to exactly what definition I should be using. Then, most recently, I came across the reference in Luke which we just read that the kingdom of God is within us. I liked this thought, but by this time, I was also aware of others. For instance, other translations of this very same verse mentioned that the kingdom of God is among us or in our midst. That’s when I began seeking answers and found not one, but three.
I learned that our understanding of the kingdom of God develops as we grow in the teachings of Jesus and mature in spirituality, as the Spirit within us gives us understanding. Paul writes that our minds are on the desires of our human nature, we are all born heirs of the kingdom of Darkness due to the fall of Adam, and we are all born blind to the reality of the kingdom of God. I realize that it’s almost a cliché in our modern culture, but as the spirit grows within us, we can be born again in the kingdom of God—into a world of light.
The bible verses above illustrate the three basic senses that Jesus taught about the kingdom of God. First, the kingdom of God is within and among us and is a present reality. Second, the kingdom of God is a vision in the spirit of Jesus, of a better reality for our life on earth today, which of course, is still not fully realized. And third, the kingdom of Heaven is the ultimate kingdom where God reigns without end with all true believers after our soul departs this earthly life.
I'll end this message the way Jesus ended his message when he taught that the kingdom of God is near. He said there were two responses. Our first response is to "think differently", just like a red poppy growing in the light among all the blue flowers. Then, you see the world differently. You have a different perspective. You change how you think, and when you change how you think, you change your behavior. You dare to be different.
Our second response is to “believe the good news” that God loves all of us unconditionally. It's good news that God reigns and that God's kingdom is all around us. It's good news that we have direction for our life and know where we should be going—that the future can be better than the past. It's good news that you have the hope that when this life is over, you have an eternal home in heaven not made by human hands. Our task is simply to trust that it is so.