Well, let’s get to it. What is Jesus referring to here? What is the “kingdom of heaven” that is near?
Very simply put, the kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God, is the sovereign and gracious reign and rule of God.
Jesus never refers to the Kingdom as a place in the sense of a geographical location. Instead, it’s wherever God is ruling and reigning. It’s wherever God’s will is being done. It’s wherever his influence is in effect. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, for example, in Matthew 6:10…
your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The Kingdom of God is manifested in the hearts, minds, and lives of those who have bowed their knees to the King of the Kingdom, the Lord Jesus Christ. And wherever the loyal subjects of the King are serving him, there you’ll find the Kingdom advancing – being extended into every sphere of life.
The Church and the Kingdom aren’t identical, but the Church – followers of the Lord Jesus – are the primary agents who spread the Kingdom.
Well, what are some examples of the Kingdom breaking into our fallen, broken, and sinful world?
I want to suggest that…
The rule and reign of God – saturated in his grace, empowered by his sovereign hand, and directed by his will – can be found wherever God’s presence is found…which means it can be found anywhere and everywhere… if people would only have eyes to see.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the name of Jesus is always being proclaimed in every setting that the Kingdom is breaking through. And yet, can’t we still rejoice that wherever mercy, peace, justice, compassion, comfort, and reconciliation are being pursued and experienced, the sovereign and gracious Kingdom of God is being revealed?
And because, as United Methodists we believe in God’s prevenient grace – that grace that ever goes before us, drawing us to Christ – we can therefore hope and pray that in those places where the name of Christ is not yet known or proclaimed, (and yet where God’s Kingdom is being experienced), that prevenient grace may draw those people to the King of the Kingdom. And, of course, as followers of the King, we will want to name and faithfully represent the King in every opportunity.
My spin on what Pastor Bruce has been preaching to us over the last month or two, to put it in the words of Jesus, is that Southside needs to be ever pursuing a Kingdom presence in our community… doing Kingdom ministry.
Next time we’ll finish this series by taking a look at how the Kingdom of God and Holy Communion are related.
Grace and Truth,