One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”
Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.” Luke 17:20-21
The Pharisees are about to discover they asked a pretty dumb question. They asked the King, who had come down from His home in heaven in the form of a humble human being, when the Kingdom of God might come. If the King was standing there in front of them, talking to them, it would be pretty safe to say that the Kingdom had already come. Where the King is, there is the Kingdom. It’s just that the King was in disguise, and so, too, was the Kingdom.
Not a lot has changed since then, except that the King has come and gone after accomplishing His mission here on earth to live, teach, heal, die and rise again. The Kingdom is still here, and it still can’t be detected by visible signs. It’s an invisible Kingdom, but in control of the God of the universe, and you and I are a part of it.
Both Matthew and Luke state, a number of times, that Jesus went about proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom. So what would be the good news of the Kingdom if it wasn’t that the Kingdom had come? The King brought His Kingdom, and the good news of the Kingdom was the fact that the King would die “The King of the Jews” for all people that all might have eternal life through believing in Him. The problem was that until He died and rose again, none of what He said made much sense. Afterwards, it would make all the sense in the world, especially to those who believed and right down to us today.
Because of faith, you and I can see the Kingdom; and not only that, we can walk around in it. We can see it everywhere, because we have seen the King; indeed, Jesus is in us by way of His Holy Spirit, so everywhere we go we see evidence of the Kingdom of God. We can see the kingdom of God with faith-filled eyes.
Why is this important today? A couple of reasons. First, we live in pretty scary times. Pipe-bomb mailings, a synagogue shooting, thousands of immigrants headed towards our southern borders with thousands of troops headed there to meet them, an election coming up with ratcheted-up rhetoric on both sides of a huge political divide … one could be tempted too not get out of bed in the morning these days. And yet, though all of this seems to indicate a chaotic world, it is also true that the Kingdom of God has not gone anywhere. It’s still here just as much as ever before, and in the Kingdom of God, nothing is chaotic. Everything is in place and right on time. God is never caught off guard by anything. This will continue to be true no matter what happens in the world.
And secondly — and this is the most important part — you and I have a job to do as representatives of that Kingdom. God has His own agenda going on right now behind the scenes of history, and you and I are ambassadors of His Kingdom. We have the good news regardless of how bad the news is around us, fake or otherwise. We have the good news of God’s love and the presence of the Holy Spirit to empower us to good deeds and a message of hope. We are here to empathize with those in need, to be generous with what we have, to uphold the standards of love, peace, respect for human dignity, kindness, and mercy, and to extend the grace that was extended to us by God — what we call Grace Turned Outward. Actually, there could not be a better time for the Kingdom of God on earth, or a better time for you and me to represent it than now. So get out of bed, get your boots on the ground, call on the Holy Spirit and get out there.
I get it now. Don’t you?