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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What's the Kingdom like?


“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 NIV


This is a summary of what the Kingdom of God is like. It is what the citizens of this kingdom can expect (now and/or in the future) and look forward to once it's fully here.

But Jesus said that his kingdom is near to us now. So near that we are to, "Repent and believe the good news (that the kingdom is near)." (Mark 1:15)

So how does this passage--where Jesus quotes from Isaiah 61:1-2--summarize the kingdom of God?

First, it's near but not here.

But, it is here, nearby just as Jesus, the king of that kingdom is near. But it's not fully here yet. Because that won't happen until he returns to judge all people and usher it in.

This trip from heaven is to invite people from outside the kingdom into the kingdom. This trip is to make a way for that to happen for those who trust the words and ways of the king. This trip is for the king to die for his future citizens' sins.

It's a kingdom that is good news for those poor and needy in every category. Both now, in part; and in the future, in full. And we're all needy whether we realize it or not. (physically and spiritually)

The needy receive freedom. Freedom from need, poverty and humiliation. Freedom from the injustices of their culture and society. Freedom from disease, illness and evil. Freedom from oppression by their captives. Freedom from persecution for being God's people. And, freedom from sin, death, shame and guilt. True freedom.

They receive a new set of eyes too. Not only can they see with physical eyes but they can see the Lord and all that he has for them in a kingdom untainted by sin. Yes, this is the future, but it's also for now (to a lesser degree). Nevertheless, we should expect to see with eyes of faith what is really going on around us. We see a world that is unseen to physical eyes.

They receive their land back--or new land for those who've never had it. This is literal now for some--in the future for others. No one is without a home and a place to live. A place to rest and be at peace. A place and people to belong to.

No more debts, enslavement, illness or homelessness. Freedom!

This a quick summary of the kingdom of God. This is what Jesus was preaching as good news. This WAS good news to those around him. Those suffering from incurable diseases and illnesses, demon possession, enslavement and homelessness. They were suffering from a lack of good food and clean water. Many lacked the ability to work and earn a living. They often didn't have a family that could care for them when they wanted to--but couldn't--work. They were truly in poverty and need. Most Americans just can't relate.

So when Jesus said, "Repent and believe the good news," it was something many wanted to believe. They saw it as good news. And many did believe.

Oh that we would see our poverty. Some of us just can't see our spiritual bankruptcy. Or we think we have all that we need so we don't really need God.

Even when we do see our need, we don't really believe the good news that the kingdom of God is near. We don't really believe that God would provide all that we need. We don't really believe that he loves his kingdom children that much.

So, like many in Jesus' day, we continue to lack because we do not believe. We continue in spiritual and physical poverty trying to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We're not trusting and following the only one who can pull us out of the hole we're in and keep us out of that hole once we're out. We just don't take God at his word and trust him. Oh God, change us!

Prayer

Lord, help us move from unbelief to belief in every area of life. Help us see the kingdom of God and the goodness of her king. Help us so trust and follow the king that we'd strongly desire to lead others to do the same. Give us a passion for your kingdom that moves people to will and act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with you as their king. Equip us and then send us to make disciples of this kingdom who make disciples who make disciples. In the name of King Jesus we pray, amen.

What is God saying to you?

What are you going to do about it?