One of the significant revelations of the Alpha Course for me when I first participated in it in 2001 came from Nicky Gumbo. He illustrated the Kingdom in chart form to demonstrate that the period of history that we live in now is markedly distinct from the period preceding the birth of Christ but not what it will be with the return of Christ. We’re in the interim times but those interim times provide us with a taste of the Kingdom as it will be on Christ’s return. Of course, salvation history goes way back in time and was characterized in the pre-Christian period by the covenant entered into between God and His chosen people: the people of Israel. The Kingdom arrived with the Incarnation: the birth of Jesus.
Jesus announced the advent of the Kingdom in answer to an enquiry brought by disciples of John the Baptist. He told them to tell John that “the lame walk, the deaf hear, the blind see, those suffering from virulent skin diseases are cleansed, the dead are raised to life and the good news is proclaimed to the poor”[ Mathew 11: 2-5 ]: all of this a reference to the prophecies of Isaiah.
Although we may be intellectually aware of the proclamation of the Kingdom and its existence, the real question is whether or not the Kingdom has arrived for “me”. The disciples of Jesus asked him why He talked to them [the crowds] in parables [Mathew 13: 10-17] and Jesus responded that “ to you is granted to understand the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not granted” implying that those of good will who have stepped out in faith will hear and see summarizing by saying “In truth, I tell you, many prophets and upright people longed to see what you see and never saw it; to hear what you hear and never heard it”.
For the Kingdom to be “real and effective” for us we have to immerse ourselves in Kingdom life otherwise it may just be a noted historical incident in our life. It is the perfection of the Kingdom that we as Christians should long for when we transition from this life to an eternal life with Christ.
Since we are at present in the interim times we are called to celebrate the realities of that state by humbly acquiescing to God’s plans for us in this life as we pilgrim towards the next. We are called to:
- Listen attentively to God’s plans for our life;
- Accept and care for those around us without judgment;
- Offer our participation in helping to build up the Kingdom without conditions.
Yes, this is a tall order as it requires that we allow God to transform us and is unlikely without opening ourselves to the grace that will flow to us without interruption if we are open to it.
If we call ourselves Christian, we might as well make the leap required for transformation [more on this in a later blog] and take advantage of the bountiful spiritual opportunities that await us in the Kingdom. Failing to do so is like winning the lottery and forgetting to pick up the cheque.
May the wonders of Kingdom life fill you with the joy of knowing that you are living the life that God intended for you as you journey toward your eternal home.