We live in a time where Herod is in control.... If you stand up and do as John the Baptist did, say a few simple words--such as That is not right; this is not how it should be done; this is not how we should treat one another; this is not how we should live--you are risking death. Sometimes we forget that the faith of Jesus is a risky life, a life that might cost you your own life.... This is the Gospel. This is where it is preached, in dangerous times.
Someone once said that Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God more than 100 times in the gospels. It's crazy how we've read our way through the words of the gospels, and have missed something that captured the passion and redemptive imagination of Jesus.
In a sense, we've reduced, filtered, dehydrated, diluted this profound mysteriously beautiful redemptive story about the Kingdom...to " Me and You."Jesus in the opening words of the gospel of Mark announces a new Kingdom, a new way of life, an abundant life a new way of living. It was a new way of peace, and reconciliation, of redemption that carried the good news to all humanity...to people of every religion.
The Kingdom of God is much bigger than any religion, or a new religion like " christianity "...it is roomy and spacious...in My Father's House are many rooms. It's hard to imagine the incredible vibrant faith that Jesus lived out in the context of everyday life being corked, zip-locked, sealed as a new " religion." I mean it's really hard to imagine Jesus gathering his disciples in a classroom in the local temple to announce, " Here's the plan. We're going to start a new religion, and we'll name it after me." " It will be a program, of plug and play...life applications...self help. " We'll manipulate them with the fear of hell, the tangle a carrot in front of them...the attraction of heaven when life comes to an end.
How do we say the Lord's prayer and miss, " Thy Kingdom come on earth, as in heaven." The Kingdom is about now. It's about God's will, his passion for grace, justice and mercy being done on earth now for " all " people. God's Kingdom, his faithfulness is presence in the midst of our suffering, oppression...and even in the midst of our darkness, and evil. Where is there a sacred secular divide, an iron curtain, a cement wall that keeps God on one side and not from the other? Where on earth can we flee from God?
The Kingdom is about the radical scandalous redemptive imagination of Jesus manifesting itself in our lives..." Now!" It is about us becoming heirs to his Kingdom now. It's not like waiting for a rich relative to die, so you can collect your inheritance and enjoy it. It's your's now, to be a partner, a co-creator in the building of the kingdom now...on earth, as in heaven. It is here now...if we have the eyes to see, and the ears to hear.
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." ( Eugene Peterson's, The Message, Luke 17:21 )
Jesus is the prophecy of Isaiah come to life, flesh and bones, breathing, proclaiming the Kingdom... living out the incredible profound truth of the Kingdom. The idea that, oh well, the poor will aways be with us, but, when the Kingdom does come in the distant future, God will make it better.
No! the good news of Jesus was now! The time has come for the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the indebted and the prisoners to be set free. As Kingdom people we are called to be agents of healing, and reconciliation...mending all the broken, and fragmented pieces of all God's creation.
He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. ( Eugene Peterson's, The Message, Colossians 1 )
Let's insert our lives into Eugene Peterson's translation, and make it our Kingdom prayer..." So spacious are we, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in our lives with out crowding. Not only that, but that we, with Jesus fix all the broken pieces of creation...people and things, animals and atoms. That all gets properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies...all because he poured out his life on the cross opening us to the reality of the Kingdom...and abundant life. Let us sacrifice our lives and live out the radical scandalous redemptive imagination of Jesus bringing the Kingdom on earth now, as in heaven. Amen.