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Jul
20

The Reality of the Present Kingdom

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“No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, and not mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” — 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)

When Paul penned these words to the church at Corinth he was not describing the splendor of a heavenly existence that we receive when we die. If you read the context of the verse (1 Corinthians 2:6-16), you’ll see that Paul is talking about life in the present Kingdom of God. Because we have the mind of Christ, our eyes will see things, your ears will hear things, and your mind will conceive things that are real. You will see God’s will and his work done on earth even as it is done in heaven. It’s not abstract or mystical. It’s tangible and real.

Matthew 11:2-15 reports the story of John the Baptizer and the crisis of faith he experienced following his arrest and incarceration. He sent his apprentices to Jesus to ask him if he was the one who was bringing the Kingdom of God or not. Jesus responded to John’s disciples by saying, “Tell John what you have seen and heard…” In short, Jesus invited John and his disciples to open their eyes and ears and minds to the present work of the Kingdom that had already arrived and was in their midst. Like us, John was struggling to see the present Kingdom.

Why is this difficult?

If you put a straight stick under water, the stick will appear crooked. The reason is that you are trying to see the stick through two dimensions. Looking at the stick through two realms simultaneously creates distortion. We have to learn to see things from the realm of the eternal.

My middle child is as right brained as they come. Ever since she was a little girl, she’s had an unusual ability to find four leaf clovers. She can do it at will. I know many people who have never legitimately found a four leaf clover. But just a couple of weeks ago she had found four four leaf clovers just walking across our back yard. She can’t really explain this ability apart from saying, “I just don’t look at the three leaf clovers.” Sometimes our view of the present Kingdom is beyond our grasp because of all of the distractions of the three leaf clovers in life.

What are we looking for? What are we listening for? What do our minds need to be opened to? Where do we need to seek clarity that is free from distortion?

For one, we need to see Jesus as a present reality versus as a historical character.
For 20 centuries, Jesus has been a flag of convenience under which all sorts of ships have sailed:
· The advancement of our programs and institutions;
· Our politics;
· Our justification for our social work;
· Our private agendas;
· Even our self help moralism.
Because of that, Jesus has become for many the most confusing part of the Christian life. When we are confused about Jesus, he gets reduced to being our problem solver. We use him to solve our problems of sin and society or to proof text him according to our preferences and positions. When Jesus becomes misappropriated, he becomes a caricature. Jesus is not merely a problem solver nor is he our flag of self promotion. He is to be the most defining and transforming person in your life. Jesus is accessible today in real and tangible ways.

Categories : Kingdom of God

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