The word ‘Kingdom’ is one we usually hear in epic films set in medieval times or earlier. Today instead we think in terms of nations, even though we live in the United Kingdom, ‘Kingdom’ sounds outdated. Last week Anna wrote about the invitation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to ‘Come in… Join us’. But if we respond to the invite, where are they and what are they doing?
In the Bible Jesus gave another invitation which gives us a clue. In fact, this one sentence is the one chosen by his closest friends to sum up his whole message:
“Look! The Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent and believe the good news!”Mark 1:15
The Kingdom of God isn’t an alternative nation or landmass, but the place where whatever God wants, happens. In story after story Jesus described this place as a feast, a celebration, a place of intimacy, joy and life. Right at the start of his ministry, Jesus stood up in the middle of the synagogue – the religious gathering place of his day – and declared….
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, freedom for the captives, recovery of sight for the blind, to declare the year of the Lord’s favour”Luke 4:18-19
That is God’s heart. That’s is God’s own description of His kingdom. And Jesus said, ‘Today is the day – it’s here’ (Luke 4:21). He then went out and proved it is here by healing the sick, setting people free from spiritual oppression, from shame and fear and mental illness, he challenged unjust authority, provided for the poor and needy, championed those on the edges, and demonstrated the powerful peacemaking and patience of the King of Kings by loving his enemies even as they nailed him to the cross.
And then that place of seeming hopelessness and defeat, lying 3 days dead in a cold stone tomb, the Holy Spirit breathed life into Jesus body and he rose again. He rose to be crowned as the King in his Kingdom that will never fade away, be broken down, wither or perish.
And then he repeated that same invitation….to his closest friends and a host of others who had followed, watched, supported, and listened to all he had done in those 3 years of ministry on earth…
“I am with you always, to the very end of time, now go and be my witnesses in Judea, Samaria, and to the very end of the world…..Make disciples of all nations”.Acts 1:7-8...Matthew 28:18-20
The invitation to ” Come in….Join us” is an invitation first of all to See that the world is not as it may seem, but God is moving right in the midst of the ordinary, the seemingly hopeless, the messy reality of life today. To do what? To bring His kingdom – to bring life, hope, healing, peace, security, reconciliation, forgiveness, mercy, meaning, passion, and purpose to everyone and anyone who will simply choose to enter in. To ‘repent’ – stop living one way and turn to live another with Jesus at the heart; and ‘believe’ – to shape our lives around the new direction we are heading, the new King we are joining.
And before we know it we are caught up with Jesus in joining in, pointing to, living out, seeing happen, the very things he was doing in his time on earth. Now through our hands, our feet, our voice, Jesus moves, embraces, speaks today and lives are transformed, the Kingdom grows.
Over the next weeks we are going to be sharing more of what living this new life looks like for us in this place at this time. It’s all shaped by the vision Jesus has given – what we see when we look for the God’s Kingdom here, at Barking Riverside and beyond; then the key characteristics of people who have accepted God’s invitation to come to him and join in with what he is doing. This week we’ll unpack it more with our new monthly video talk on Sunday@6pm. We’d love you to join us, put the date in your diary, set an alarm and get ready for the first video this Sunday 11th October at 6pm over on our facebook page.