We think heaven is far off. That it is only something to be attained after death. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the ultimate triumph of good over evil that has already occurred one day in church and then live the rest of the year as if Jesus still lays chillin’ in his tomb. We live the rest of the 364 days of the year as if peace, healing, restoration, joy, and reconciliation can only take place after we die.
But what does Jesus say to the Pharisees when they ask him about the kingdom of God?
“Once having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “the kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people says, ‘Here it is’, or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within YOU” Luke 17:20-21
Jesus sends a clear message to those of us who doubt, who are blind from seeing the living, breathing acts of the kingdom of God living among us: it is not distant. In fact, it is not far at all. It is inside each of us who believes in him.
Right before this passage we see Jesus walking along the border between Samaria and Galilee, healing ten lepers on his way. They all cry out to Jesus as he walks by to have pity on them. He heals each one of them, but only one of the healed lepers returns to Jesus praising God for what he has done. Throwing himself at his feet, crying out to Jesus who has restored his very life before his own eyes, it seems strange only one would return to give Jesus the thanks he deserves. And who is this one who returns to thank Jesus? Not a Jew. Not a powerful member of society. But, an outcast. One of the depised. A Samaritan. Jesus chooses once again to humble the proud with the things that are lowly, the people that are the most suppressed become his most passionate followers. And this Samaritan man was used as a reminder, right before Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would arrive, that the kingdom of God was among them—they only needed to open up their eyes.
So, why must I continue to find myself too often living like a Pharisee? Doubting. Judging. Not humbly seeking. Not having the faith like the Samaritan had in thanking God for healing him. Not believing that the very power of the resurrected Jesus lives in me. Not accepting that I can live in this freedom—the freedom of Jesus’ victory over all forms of earthly sin, death, imprisonment and bondage—not only on Easter, but EVERY DAY of the year!!! I only need to stop and listen for direction. How can I speak this truth that freedom is here TODAY and EVERY DAY of the year? How can I continue to believe that God can do miracles not only on Easter or Christmas but every SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR?? How do I believe in this even if every day I can’t see someone healed every day of my life? Where is God’s kingdom in the turmoil of life?
But, the good news is that his kingdom is already here! Amidst the questions and doubts. Amidst my fears and troubles. Admist the despair and chaos of life. His hope is alive, because he is RISEN! He continues to bring freedom, peace and healing to my life because his Spirit is within ME!
May you all be encouraged to seek God’s kingdom—a kingdom that is here on Earth, living and breathing 365 days of the year! A kingdom that starts like a small, mustard seed inside each one of us, and flourishes into a thriving tree that bears fruit as we live out God’s love, mercy and justice.
HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!!!:)