GOD'S KINGDOM IS AMONG YOU
"Jesus. grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, 'The kingdom of God doesn't come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, 'Look here!' or 'There it is!' And why? Because God's kingdom is already among you.'" Luke 17:20,21 (The Message).
The Pharisees just didn't get it! They were looking for God's kingdom in the wrong place. They thought that the kingdom of God was regional, geographical and political. They could not grasp the truth that God's rule could be among them and within them.
When Jesus began His public ministry, His first announcement was, 'The time has come...The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.' Mark 1:15 (NIV).
The good news is much more than that He died for our sins to take us to heaven. The good news, prophesied by the prophet Isaiah centuries before is, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Our God reigns!'" Isaiah 52:7 (NIV).
How sad that the 'good news' that is generally proclaimed today has been watered down to an escape route from hell! Jesus came to declare and demonstrate the good news that God is in charge, here, now, in the worst of our circumstances, when the stock market crashes and the bottom falls out of our world. He is here with His love and power to change our hearts, to transform us from selfish, self-seeking people into loving and caring sons who trust Him and spend their lives making other people's lives better at their own expense.
The Pharisees rejected Jesus' message because, like the rich young ruler, their 'kingdom' was ruled by the love of money. They could not serve God and mammon and they had chosen mammon.
The strange thing is that, had they only realised it, the potential to live God's way was already in them. All they needed to do was to change their minds, receive and believe the truth and they would have been a part of the growing number of people who had moved out of the selfish lifestyle that led to death, into a way of living that copied Jesus.
So, what is the kingdom of God?
Every earthly kingdom is influenced by the 'god of this world' - the devil - and is built on the principle of selfishness and greed. Every government and every constitution is designed to exercise a measure of control over people so that society does not deteriorate into total chaos. Thus we need laws to control people's behaviour. We have every kind of system to regulate and direct what people do, and policing and legal processes to punish those who step outside the law.
But none of these measures can control the heart of a man. Every human being is born with a bias towards greed and wickedness. This is the legacy of Adam and no amount of legislation can change our disposition.
The really good news is that God can. By paying our debt and releasing us from slavery to Satan, Jesus has invited us into the realm where God rules. As we yield ourselves to Him, He takes up residence in our spirits and redirects us into the truth that He is God, not the devil, and that we are no longer under obligation to the devil and his ways. We are free to love and give instead of demand and grab, and that is the disposition of Jesus and the way God does things in His realm.
The kingdom of God is not limited by geographical or political boundaries. Wherever God is in control of a human heart, He is there. His kingdom can function in the midst of paganism, idolatry and false religions if one person believes and follows Jesus. And so God's kingdom grows as one life touches another, as the old hymn puts it:
"So be it, Lord! Thy throne shall never, Like earth's proud empires, pass away; Thy Kingdom stands and grows forever, Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway." (John Ellerton, 1826-93)
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