Have you seen Frozen? I have 2 young daughters and so have seen bits of it lots of times but haven’t made it all the way through yet. One of the best bits (of the bits I have seen anyway) is the summer song. Olaf the snowman is really looking forward to summer to which Kristoff replies ‘I’m guessing you don’t have too much experience with heat’. If you’ve not seen the movie, you can watch the song on youtube link at the end of this post.
Jesus said: “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. (Matthew 24.32-33). Jesus had been answering the question: ‘Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?’ Jesus gives various signs that we can watch for which are mainly about the world becoming a harder and more painful place to live in.
Jesus talked often about the ‘Kingdom of God’. He announced that the kingdom was here, near and still to come. If we think of the Kindom of God as being where people recognize that God is king then it makes absolute sense that it is here (many people follow God already), that it is near (following God is open to anyone) but it is still to come (one day when Jesus returns in glory, everyone will see that he is God). This full coming of the Kingdom of God is like summertime. Throughout the year we see glimpses that it is coming but then once a year (usually for a day or two if you live in the UK) summer appears in all its glory. The signs given by Jesus aren’t meant to give us a precise time he will return. The fig tree metaphor is a cyclical one, it buds and blossom each year and so the signs of war and disasters will happen again and again as a reminder that one day Jesus will end this sinful way of living that causes destruction.
As I first heard the snowman sing the song, I found it really funny and sad at the same time. He was longing for summer but he didn’t realize that he wouldn’t be able to survive in it. I wonder if this is the same with the Kindgom of God? When Jesus returns he will create a new earth where there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (Revelation 21.4). We may long for the kingdom of God to come but like the snowman I’m not sure we really understand what that change that will mean. Although I am a good person by some people’s standards I am too sinful to get to God. God is holy and he cannot tolerate sin and so I have a problem, I long for the kingdom of God but I can’t exist in it unless I can be sinless. People wonder why God doesn’t remove suffering and violence form the world now but we need to realize that the only way for him to do that is to change all of us. One day he will.
There is good news. The Bible says that Jesus took the sin of the world on himself when he died on the cross (1 Peter 2.24). He took our place so that we can be free of our sin. I can exist in the kingdom of God, not because I am worthy, but because of the love and grace of God. When Jesus returns, those who have called on him to save them, who have asked him to forgive their sins and who have turned to follow him will be transformed into a people who are sinless and pure. We can live with God forever on the new earth as a changed people in a world where there is no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. I am so looking forward to
Summer Jesus’ return and this new beginning.
But how will we live in the meantime? Will we accept God’s grace and forgiveness but live in a way that pleases us only or will we work with God that we might begin to be transformed into people who are becoming more and more ready to live in the physical presence of the most holy God?
This video clip and thoughts are another example of the creative communication we use in our services.