Closer Than You Think
My awareness of God’s kingdom, and its relevance in my life has grown. “Grown” is probably an understatement. In ways, what I now know about the kingdom, or presume to know, has turned my spiritual journey upside down.
I am still attempting to connect the dots on my transformation, and have yet to reach any firm conclusions, except to say there is no single cause. As a child growing up in a bible-believing church, I viewed the kingdom of God as otherworldly: as if anything related to it had to be outsourced from heaven. When Jesus prayed, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” (The King James Version was still in wide use at the time), I believed He was calling on God to intervene in human affairs. But I did not see the kingdom of God as something any of us actually participated in.
Later, I fell in love with Jesus’ parables and realized, while God’s kingdom might be in heaven, its principles were translatable to life. Then I discovered the church is Christ incarnate in the world, which could only mean the kingdom itself had come to earth. This explained why Jesus gave Peter the “keys of the kingdom of heaven.” The church was soon to be born, and Peter would deliver the first gospel sermon, unleashing sins’ captives and declaring them citizens of a new and lasting kingdom.
This was my understanding for much of my life. The church was “heaven-on-earth”, infusing a lost planet with spiritual power, and spreading grace where possible.
Finally, as it became popular for the church to reach out to the most broken parts of our culture, I learned the kingdom resides in Christ-followers. If the church is a body, and Christ its head, then members of the church have an inheritance that makes them kingdom embodiments. Everywhere they go, the kingdom of God goes, and as the Lord inhabits more and more people, the kingdom expands.
Whether or not this present awareness is an indication of my personal awakening, a reflection of a spiritual revival in the church at-large, or the mainstreaming of a sleeping belief; it has taken root in my heart. I am more excited than ever about the kingdom and its hope for the decay I see around me.