The Kingdom of God: both “among” and “within”

In my blog posted on November 11th, 2015, I commented on the inauguration of the Kingdom of God with the birth of Jesus as a critical manifestation of God’s mercy. The incarnation was in the planning stage since the fall of Adam and Eve and perhaps before that. The all good and gracious God was determined out of His love and compassion to find a way to bring each of us home safely notwithstanding the betrayal in the Garden of Eden and notwithstanding the countless betrayals that have occurred since then. The plan was to offer himself in the person of Jesus to atone once and for all for the sins of humankind both past and future. The incarnate God was going to suffer terribly to save his children.

DSC_2510As Christians who have stepped out in faith to embrace the Kingdom, we need to begin to comprehend the evangelizing nature of God’s Kingdom. It is in a sense in transition. Its fullness will be achieved when Jesus returns in glory. In the meantime, in this age, we live in an “already but not quite yet time” punctuated as it were by the vagaries of life in the flesh. What we wear as evidence of our membership in the Kingdom is our faith.  By our baptism we have become “Church”:  members of the Body of Christ. In a very tangible sense the Kingdom is among us evidenced by the lives of other members of Christ’s Body with whom we interact in our various communities. We begin to reflect the values of Kingdom life as we share our pilgrimage with those other members with whom in concert we help to build up the Kingdom.  Our duty is to faithfully travel with these others sharing our gifts and receiving others gifts. We are not called to separate ourselves from community with the idea that we can pursue an isolated relationship with our God since while the Kingdom is about our relationship with God it is also about our relationship with one another. Those relationships, mirrored as they are by our relationship with Jesus, are fuelled by a love that seeks to transform the darkness by outreach to others.

The other dimension of the Kingdom is that it is “within”. While we interact with other Christians we also recognize that the “Advocate” in the person of the Holy Spirit comes to reside within us as we dedicate ourselves to life in the Kingdom. It is the advocate who helps us to develop the fruits of the Holy Spirit, who guides us, convicts us when we offend God or one another, and pours out on us the grace that we need to nourish our lives within the Kingdom. In time that nourishment ensures the development of a healthy prayer life so critical to maintaining an intimate relationship with Jesus. It is the relationship with Jesus that assists us to share the Kingdom with others as we become the “hands, feet, voice and heart of Jesus” to those who have yet to discover the joy of life in the Kingdom.

As we reflect on Kingdom life, we shudder as we contemplate life in the darkness. God’s mercy has provided us with the great gift of salvation. He wants us to reach out to others so that they too might share this gift. How each of us reaches out in the circumstances of our own lives needs to be addressed in prayer to the Holy Spirit. As a member of the Body we have a role to play. We just need with God’s grace to identify it and then apply it.

 

 

 

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