I have good news to share with you all:
The Kingdom of God is here!
I’m so excited that this is a reality, that this is the good news that we are called to share. The gospel is not simply a one-way ticket to Heaven (although it is an important part of the Christian faith). The gospel is not a way for God to remove all the pain and suffering from my life (although I believe God has the ability to heal me and give me a life free from suffering if He wanted!). No, the gospel is God meeting us where we are right now and setting the world free by destroying death and redeeming His creation.
Do you want to be a part of it?
I’ve been reading the book Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright*, and that book has changed my entire perspective on my life as a Christian. On Monday, my friend and co-worker shared a sermon from John Ortberg* with me that was about the kingdom of God, and the fact that eternal life begins here and now. So, I felt like there was a pattern in what God was teaching me, and I would like to share what I learned with you today.
We have been taught from an early age that the gospel is simply believing that Jesus died so that you can go to Heaven. We have this mentality that Christianity is all about what Jesus can do for me, and whatever I suffer in this life, I will never have to deal with it in the next. It doesn’t matter if I sin, it doesn’t matter if I’m mean to people, it doesn’t matter if others hurt me…my ultimate hope is going to Heaven when I die.
Sadly, I spent much of my Christian life like this. As one who tends to avoid pain and responsibility, I like the idea that Jesus died so that I can never be hurt, so that there will always be sunny skies and comfy pillows and blessings. I guarded my heart, protecting myself from the world, believing that if I just held on long enough and kept myself free from sin, I would be able to enjoy sitting on fluffy clouds, eating ice cream with no calories, and partying with my relatives who had gone before me.
This was my gospel; it was the gospel centered around me.
Although this life sounds pretty great, the life that Jesus promises is even better. His plan involves helping us see beyond ourselves. His plan involves restoration, redemption, and revival…and we are able to be a part of it. Jesus did not come just to protect you from this “evil” world; He came so you could help Him in restoring all of creation to what it used to be.
It starts when we accept Jesus into our hearts.
This means recognizing the work Jesus did on Earth, believing that His sacrifice was enough to save your sins, and then submitting to God’s will. Having a relationship with Jesus is asking Him what He desires, knowing full well that He loves us, and trusting Him to not only provide for your needs, but for the needs of all of His creation.
When we accept God’s will for us, we begin to pray as Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
After that, we trust in faith that God will provide us the guidance and wisdom to know how to live in Heaven on Earth. Whether it’s caring for someone who is sick, advocating the rights of the poor, or even smiling at a friend who needs encouragement, you can assist in bringing the Kingdom of God to Earth. And since God is a good God, we know that His Kingdom will make the world a better place, one soul, one smile, one prayer at a time.
Are you fixing your eyes on the problems in this world and losing hope, or are you hoping that Jesus comes back soon so that He could clean up all of our mess? I have even greater news for you than either of those two options: Before Jesus comes back, we have the opportunity to bring Heaven to Earth through our worship, our service to God, and overall, through His love flowing out of us.
bd daniel. “John Ortberg The Kingdom of God Pepperdine University
2014.” Online video clip. YouTube. 10 April 2015. Web. 17 July 2017.
Wright, N. T. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection,
and the Mission of the Church. New York: Harper Collins, 2008. Print.