When Jesus preached or taught, he often began by saying “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the good news”.
In fact Jesus had a lot to say about the kingdom of God. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these” as little children sat on His knee. To those who asked when the kingdom would come, He said “the kingdom of God is within you”.
He even sent His disciples out to preach about the kingdom of God, giving them the words “the kingdom of God is near you”.
The words are simple, but the meaning…? And if this was so central to Jesus’ teaching (and it was) then shouldn’t it be central to our teaching too? Shouldn’t our churches be telling folks “repent, the kingdom of God is at hand”? (Some churches have the “repent” part down pretty well, but how often do they talk about the kingdom of God?) Have the words lost all meaning to modern ears?
The Message Bible translates Jesus’ message this way: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”
What do we know of kingdoms? Have we ever really experienced one? One of the pitfalls of democracy is that it puts mankind at the center of all decisions. “My will be done” is the message sent by the voting booth, and by those who win elections, and by all those who hold power or wealth.
“Thy will be done” is the hallmark of God’s kingdom. To set aside my rights, and kneel at His feet, and pledge my life in service to the King… to stop chasing after, or even wanting, power or money or things or prestige… it’s that radical a turning.
But how is this good news?
For starters — God’s will or mine, which is better? (Anyone need to ask?) Who knows more, God or me? Who loves better, God or me? Who is more creative? Who is more gentle and understanding? Who is more right, or more true? Who has the better sense of humor?
And then — and then — He says: “the kingdom is within you”! By the power of His Spirit, God makes His home with us. “In Him we live and move and have our being” — closer than the air we breathe, is this holy and loving Lord.
Good news indeed. Change your life — God’s kingdom is here!
(Inspired in part by “The Divine Conspiracy” course at Trinity)