There is a lot going on in our world right now; as you know, it’s been a really tough year so far. We have probably lived through more strange things in this one year than we have in decades. Sometimes it genuinely feels like everything is just falling apart. We’ve been under an immense amount of stress for months and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up any time soon.
A few months ago, I realized that I was not at my best during this time, which freed me up to understand that everyone else is not currently at their best either. While we’re all struggling to get through this, we’re seeing glimpses of the best and worst of humanity.
As I’ve been reading and praying through these characteristics of the Kingdom, I’ve been very aware of something: Jesus almost always refers to the Kingdom of Heaven in relation to people. The Bible records that he often said things like “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man…” or “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a woman…”
Now if it were up to me, I would talk about all the cool stuff in Heaven: like rubies, emeralds, and diamonds, oh my! I would talk about things like no more tears or pain. But I don’t think that I would be as keen to focus on the people. Thankfully, God’s ways and thoughts are always better than my own.
Going all the way back to Genesis, God has been passionate about people. When he created the world, he made all these beautiful and cool organisms, but none of those things look like God. The majestic mountains, the unknowable oceans, and the creative creatures are all amazing, but they’re not like God. He saved that honor for humans. He made you and me in his image—what a privilege!
It’s easy to think about the Kingdom of God as a place, but what if the Kingdom is a people?
This year has made me really examine how I view the church. I had fallen into the trap of seeing it as an event, not a people. I had begun to see the church as a building instead of a group of individuals passionately pursuing God together. And I think because I had mistakenly seen the church as a physical location, I came to see the Kingdom as a location as well.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10 (NIV)
When we pray “Your Kingdom come,” we’re not asking for a physical invasion. The Kingdom is here because we are here. We are able to bring his culture, his perspective, and his character to a lost and hurting world. What a privilege that is!
The collective action of the saints, fueled by his supernatural Holy Spirit living within us brings his Kingdom and will to this earth. He has invited us to co-labor with him in unleashing his character and goodness to a desperate world. He has set us free so that we can bring others into the Kingdom. He has enlisted us in the mission of inviting others into his family. And he is calling us to pull chairs up to the table for those who are coming in because there’s always enough room.
The Kingdom of God is more than a place, it’s a people, and it’s our privilege to be a part.
How do you view the Kingdom of God?
What does it mean to be part of the people of God?