- Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:15)
We have just heard Jesus say in the Gospel of Mark,
- “The time has come. The Kingdom of God has come near.” (Mark 1:15)
But where is the Kingdom of God?
Most of us were taught in church that Heaven or the Kingdom of God was a place we go to when we die. That someday, when we die we can experience the freedom and perfect new life of Heaven. But that is not really what Jesus said; He said that
- the Kingdom is near – is at hand. (Mark 1:15)
So, why are we struggling so hard here on earth?
I want to suggest to you that we need to look at the Kingdom of God in a different way.
Because we need the Kingdom of Heaven in our lives today! We need to know that God cares about us today. Jesus said ‘NEAR’ – not ‘LATER’. Let’s consider the possibility that the Kingdom of God is near to those who hear Christ’s message and believe that message.
Contrary to the teachings of many churches, the teachings of Jesus are not primarily concerned with life after death. Christianity is concerned with life here and now. His message is not about dying, but about living. Christianity is not nearly as concerned about the Last Day as it is this day!
- “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
There are many people who think that when Jesus talked about the Kingdom, he was talking about Heaven, where we would go some day. He was not. He was talking about a Kingdom of the here and now. He told us not to worry about tomorrow. It is today that really matters.
The Kingdom is at hand right now, so don’t put off your living until tomorrow. Experience God’s love in your life right now; live His teachings; find that peace and joy. The Kingdom can be here, and the Kingdom must be now.
That is the message that we all need to hear and make real in our lives. The reign of God in human life is here. No longer can we act as if God doesn’t matter in our world. No longer can we act as if justice and righteousness are irrelevant in our modern society. No longer can we act as if life has no meaning and that there is no hope. The Kingdom of God is nearer than it has ever been before.
There are two things we need to do to experience this Kingdom.
The first is to examine our lives honestly and make the changes needed to live in love and forgiveness with others and ourselves. Is there anything unhealthy in your life that you need to do something about? Any relationship, any way you spend your time that needs to be changed? Do you need to change your habits, or make amends with someone you have harmed? This is the time to do that. . . after all, the Kingdom of God is here and now.
The second thing we need to do is to believe and live the Good News.
But, what is the Good News?
It is the message of Jesus from the Gospel of John:
- My kingdom is not of this world; my kingdom is different. Turn to me; trust in me. I am here for you. I will die for you. I will rise from the dead for you. And believing in me, you will have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Everlasting life doesn’t begin in the far off unknown. It can begin the moment you give your heart over completely to love – loving the Creator and loving each other as we are loved; treating everyone else on this earth as our own brothers and sisters, with kindness and caring. At that moment you begin living in the Kingdom of God, here and now.
We start each of our services with the song, “This is the day”. You may not know it, but that comes from Psalm 118:24:
- This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad
That’s because we know that if we choose, we can live in the Kingdom of God, right here on earth, not ‘up’ somewhere in the heavens.
Are you ready to live in the Kingdom of God?
. . . .on earth!
And the people say:
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church On Capitol Square, Columbus, OH, 25 January 2015