The ‘At Hand’ Kingdom
Later on, after John was arrested by Herod Antipas, Jesus went to Galilee to preach God’s Good News. “At last the time has come!” he announced.”The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!” (Mark 1:14-15 NLT)
By Mark Kelly
The news Jesus brought to Israel was the best ever. The dream of God’s kingdom come was about to come true. This Gospel wasn’t just about accepting the dead-and-risen Jesus into your heart so you can go to heaven when you die. This was good news about living the Kingdom life here and now — a life of justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
Israel misunderstood what the Kingdom of God was about. They expected a political savior who would roll back Roman oppression and establish them as the world’s superpower. But we’ve also misunderstood Jesus’ good news.
In his book “The Kingdom of God,” Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks: “How does it come to pass that, with open Bibles before them, men and women should be wrong, not so much about certain details with respect to the Gospel, but about the whole thing? … wrong about its foundation, wrong about its central message, wrong about its objective, and wrong about how one comes into relationship with it.”
We know the Gospel is more than going to heaven when we die. Some churches preach an after-life Gospel, but many of us understand that God’s kingdom is here and now. What we have missed is the range and scope of God’s kingdom. There’s more to the Gospel than getting a life filled, here and now, with meaning and purpose.
We have disconnected the New Testament from the Old. God’s law and his prophets continually held up the Lord’s demand for justice and the promise of his “shalom,” a state of well-being, of lives and relationships transformed in every respect. Salvation is redemption, restoration, and re-creation in every aspect of a person’s life, both as an individual and as a person in community. The Kingdom is God’s reign of right relationships between people, before the Lord — his will done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Salvation — life in God’s “at hand” kingdom — is a fulfilled promise of redemption and restoration, the experience of re-creating our life together as God always intended. In a word: justice. What we accomplish today, one day the Lord will establish finally and completely.
The Kingdom of God is at hand! Live the Good News!
Mark Kelly is editor of Multiply Justice. Copyright © 2012 Kainos Press