Well…sort of. My wife and I are not playing Abraham and Sarah.
We’re going to be grandparents again. Grandchild number five—granddaughter number three–arrives late August. The anticipation is palpable.
We are at that stage where the sonogram pictures are popping up in our photo stream.
The women-folk in the family are already predicting whom she will resemble. How they arrive at their conclusions is one of the many mysteries the menfolk are left to cogitate.
But even we men, bereft as we are of the prophetic superpowers that predict likeness, can discern one thing…there is a new little gal percolating in there. And you can be sure that she will be the object of our protective affection when she arrives.
What I can pick up from the grainy images is that she seems quite happy in her safe little mobile home–floating contentedly in a tiny ocean of life.
These pictures made me wonder…is she aware at all of her surroundings? What does she know about the waters of the womb in which she is carried? Is there any consciousness in her sleepy growth of the essential nature of the generative fluid in which she now exists?
The same can be asked of us who are Jesus’ people…are we aware that in this and every moment we are immersed in the life-sustaining reality called “the Kingdom”?
Jesus had a central message. Everything He ever said, explained and illustrated rose from one premise.
His invincible reign and indisputable rule–all around us. Immediate. Imminent. Inescapable.
Jesus didn’t say it was coming. He said it is here–at hand, accessible. The Kingdom is hidden yet obvious; invisible yet tangible.
The Kingdom is the amniotic fluid in which every believer is currently incubating. I am surrounded and immersed in the Kingdom as intimately and completely as my new granddaughter is in the life-sustaining environment of her mother’s womb.
Problem is the Kingdom is so here and we are so in it that much of the time we fail to see, sense or apprehend it. Why? Because it is impossible to become aware of and responsive to the immediacy of the Kingdom unless and until I am willing to change my perception of my reality.
Jesus made it clear that conjoined with the message “the Kingdom is at hand” is the one essential to seeing and entering that Kingdom.
Repentance is not simply remorse, sadness or grief. While godly sorrow often accompanies true repentance, it does not define it.
Repentance is changing your mind so God can change your heart.
It is like waking in the womb to become excitedly and appreciatively aware of the liquid life in which we are developing. We are literally germinating, incubating and marinating in the Kingdom all the time!
Jesus spent lots of time telling stories that unpacked this pervasive message.* Distilling those stories I have narrowed my understanding to these four pivotal principles of the nearness of His Kingdom:
- The point of history has been made. Everything in creation was moving toward God’s invasion of the now. The Kingdom moved from invisible and overarching to immediate and obtainable when Jesus burst from Mary’s womb.
- The rule of God is closer than you think. The way it should be is again potential and possible in the way it is. The rule of God moved from heaven to earth when Jesus strapped on sandals and walked on our turf.
- The world we have known is upside down. An alternative and actual reality is available to those willing to change the way they think. The design of God became visible to man as Jesus lived the life we live the way it was meant to be.
- The Kingdom of God is bigger than you dared to dream. The increase of His government and peace has begun. His reign moved from there and then to here and now when Jesus emerged from a tomb with an eternal key ring dangling at His side.
We can wake up to the actual and immediate presence of the Kingdom all around us…the “at-handness” of His reign; the currentness of His rule; the now-ness of His government.
When we do, we will be amazed how different everything looks. When seen through the lens of the Kingdom the mundane reality of the daily is shot through with meaning. Moments take on the essence of eternity. Ordinary living becomes abundant life.
And no pain, suffering, struggle, failure or disappointment ever has to feel pointless again. You can shout within every circumstance: “The Lord Reigns!”
The Kingdom of heaven is at hand…that changes everything.
*See Matthew 13ff.