When God came to Earth and walked around as a Person named Jesus, He was always talking about the Kingdom of God.
(If you’ve only heard of Jesus in the context of religion, you should go right now to the NIV or NLT or The Message version of the Bible and read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If you do, I guarantee you’ll at least be fascinated by the Real Jesus. Maybe wanna fall on your face and worship Him.)
Anyway, when the Most High God comes down to walk among us mortals, it is easy to see why He would say, “The Kingdom of God is near.”
He came among us.
And His Kingdom is advancing.
Even now, today.
Any time we join Him in this advancement, we are intentionally living in His Kingdom. So things like loving our families, investing our lives in people instead of just things, loving our enemies, praying for those who slander our reputation, announcing to others they don’t have to strive to be good enough because The Cross made them acceptable to God, and seeking to push back evil in things like racial injustice, starvation, corporate greed, human trafficking, bullying, unloved children in orphanages, lonely widows, and poverty.
But listen to me: If we run out and try to do all those things in pride or anxiety, we’ll just wear out ourselves and everyone around us.
Instead, we walk with Him. We learn the unforced rhythms of grace. We learn to hear His voice and sense His activity and join Him.
It’s actually quite a sigh of relief.
For a little more clarity, my favorite definition of God’s Kingdom is from The Jesus Storybook Bible:
“God’s Kingdom is anywhere God is king.”
And from Jen Hatmaker’s book 7:
“When Jesus’ ways are emulated and mercy wins, when justice rolls like a mighty river and truth is declared. Anywhere God’s rule has dominion, in any moment when His way is chosen over our human instinct, His kingdom breaks through.
Jesus gave us the best glimpse into the kingdom by walking around on earth. We get to watch what this new way of living looks like, how it sounds, who it belongs to, how it is spoken, where it is willing to reach.
We see that it owns very, very little but gives very, very much. We notice that it is often unsafe and wanders into dangerous territory, even if we write that off as inapplicable to us.
We see the kingdom committed to unlikely folks at the bottom of the food chain: children, lepers, women, homeless people, and the way it got there was by Jesus actually going there, walking there with His feet and touching people with His hands.
We watch it draw a disproportionate level of criticism from religious people; it looked very different from the hierarchy inside the temple.
Its best moments were on hillsides, in rivers, around dinner tables, at funerals, on roadsides, in sick rooms, in boats – we don’t actually see Jesus sequestered in the temple much.
It’s this way of life, the way Jesus did it, full of courage and risk and sacrifice and back-breaking mercy that we are asked to accept.”
Sounds a lot more fun than religion, yes?
Let’s join Him.