Have you ever really, really looked forward to something?
I was once in a school staff room where there was a white board with a series of marks that were being crossed off to remind everyone how many days were left to the school holidays.
I remember one of my children pacing around their room on Christmas eve because they were too excited to sleep.
Then there was the excited conversation with a friend whose husband was returning home the next day after months away with work.
I have a friend who has been desperate to see ‘The last Jedi’ since the end of ‘The Force Awakens’ two years ago.
When we adopted our eldest daughter our boys were upset because we got to meet her before they did. They couldn’t wait to meet their new sister!
When we look forward to something it consumes our thoughts and energy.
We have probably all known what it is to look forward to and to long for something to happen really soon rather than having to wait. To wish that we were already experiencing it rather than living in just our ordinary and everyday lives.
Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” (mark 1.14-15)
Jesus went around telling people that the Kingdom of God is near and that this was really good news!
The Jews were living under Roman occupation and they would have been so excited about the Kingdom of God appearing anytime because they were expecting a superhero type of Messiah who would defeat all of their enemies. They longed for the Kingdom of God because they thought that it meant freedom from their oppressors and enemies.
Jesus did bring freedom, just not the sort of freedom that the Jews were expecting.
Jesus died on the cross to reconcile the world to God to himself (2 Corinthians 5.18-21). The Kingdom of God and most life on this planet had largely been separated but God’s aim is to reconcile those things to the point where God will reign on a new earth. In this future moment, the Kingdom of God and life on Earth will become completely synchronized and this is a description of what it will be like:
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21.3-4)
As I watch the news and I see pain, death and turmoil, it’s hard not to long for the Kingdom of God where these things will be non-existent. The kingdom of God is a place of righteousness, peace and joy (Romans 14.17), rather than evil, stress and depression.
The Kingdom of God is breaking in to life on our planet but one day God will rule on a new earth and those who choose to follow Jesus can spend eternity in the Kingdom of God.
What’s not to look forward to?
One of the questions this raises for those of us who follow Jesus is what our priorities really are. It may be that we would like a world without sickness, death and pain but that we also have a relatively comfortable existence and other things that we are focused on we are not in such a rush for it to happen.
When we think about the Kingdom of God being near it challenges us to consider whether we want to live life in a completely new way or whether we are more comfortable as we are?
Is Jesus really our King or do we see him more as a consultant who we turn to for advice when it suits us?
Is Jesus really leading us through life or do we simply make our life choices in a way that suits us?
Is Jesus really first in our lives or does he only get a look in when we have finished what is important to us?
The Kingdom of God is near, how does that make you feel?
This is the first in a series of posts about the Kingdom of God.
As preparation for a meeting next month, I have been given 19 readings that contain things that Jesus said about the Kingdom of God and I’m hoping to write something about each one as I read through them.
Next time I’ll be thinking about ‘The kingdom is like a farmer growing crops’ (Matthew 13.24-30)
Have you got any thoughts about the kingdom being near? If so I would love it if you could share them below in the comments section.