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The Kingdom is at Hand



A picture of the night sky.

The natural tendency of everyone is to think in terms of this life and the next life.  Even people who are serious about their faith tend to see life with God as somewhat “in the future.”  It’s something "out there" we’ll experience after we die. 


But Scripture is clear that the life of faith is not just for the future.  It begins right here – right now.  In fact Jesus stated that the kingdom is God is already “at hand.” (Mark 1:15) He meant that with his coming, the kingdom had started in a new and dynamic way.  His life, teaching, ministry, death, burial and resurrection inaugurated  a new and more visible aspect of God’s reign here on earth.  And we are living under that reign right now.


Consider just a few of the ways that God’s kingdom is already a present reality in the lives of believers.


A – We are already united to Christ.  Over 150 times in the New Testament, Paul refers to believers as being “in Christ” or “in him.”  1 Corinthians 1:30 praises God for his sovereign work in our lives, noting that “it is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus.”


B – We have, spiritually speaking, already been raised up with Christ.  Colossians 3:1 say, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. . .  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”


C – Ephesians 6:12 speaks about a current, real-life spiritual battle we face each day.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  1 John 2:18 also addresses the spiritual battle that is currently raging, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.”  All of this teaching speaks to a current, on-going battle that Christians face every day.


D – Regarding the judgment of those who don’t believe, Jesus said that in one sense, they have already been judged.  In John 3:18 he said, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  It’s sobering to think that many people, walking around today, have already been judged.  Romans 1:24 gives further evidence of this present condemnation: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. . . Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.”  This is not merely a future judgment; it’s a current reality.


A man helping another man with a walker.

E – Christians are said to be serving Christ – already – through the simple tasks they perform each day.  Colossians 3:23-24 challenges us with these words, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  The amazing thing about serving Christ is that we don’t have to wait until heaven to do so.  We can, and do, serve Christ with every task we do every day.  Paul didn’t say that someday we will serve Jesus.  He said, “Right now – today – you are serving the Lord.” 


Because the Kingdom of God is at hand – and because Jesus has inaugurated the new age with his resurrection, we can and should live as if God’s kingdom is here – right now.


A woman in thought looking out the window.

We should aspire to make the words of the Psalmist our own words, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”  In Psalm 73:23 we read, “ . . .I am continually with you . . .Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.


There are many aspects of the Christian life that are not yet realized.  Many things that we must wait until heaven to see realized fully in our lives.  But because so much about our faith in Christ is already here, we need to live with a renewed sense of seriousness and commit ourselves to seeking first his kingdom. (Matthew 6:33)


If nothing else, the shortness of life itself should motivate us to do everything possible to serve the Lord with every breath we take – and to live continually in his presence.  Psalm 90:10,12 reminds of life’s brevity: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. . . So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

 

This is the day the Lord has made.  Let’s live accordingly – with a new sense of urgency.  Let’s live as if the kingdom of God is at hand. . . right now!

 

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