This is the third week of a series we are calling the Kingdom of God. Jesus ushers in a Kingdom through his word and mighty deeds. He also extends the creation of the Kingdom through the mission of those he sends out. Drawing near the Kingdom is a word of salvation for those who receive and a word of judgement for those who refuse to repent and believe. In this series we will look at what the Kingdom of God means and how Jesus hoped to see the Kingdom grow.
During his ministry Jesus and the apostles begin proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom. Proclaiming the Kingdom becomes an urgent priority. But it is a Kingdom people must seek and pray to come in fullness. The Kingdom of God transcends earthly Kingdoms even though it has no organization. But the Kingdom of God, formed here in the world leads directly to the Kingdom of Heaven.
In the readings two weeks ago we saw the message to follow, we saw it in the prophet Elisha, we saw it through Jesus conversation with others and Paul told us as followers that we receive freedom. We are called to follow as participates in Jesus mission, to usher in the Kingdom of God. We are free to participate or ignore the call of Jesus. But if we want to enter the Kingdom of God we must answer the call to follow. In fact following is the first step in becoming a member of the Kingdom of God. So we start with the call to follow Jesus in his mission to create a new Kingdom, one unlike any other in the world.
The readings last week had us looking at a new creation. The Prophet Isaiah speaking for God tells of a new heaven and a new earth. We saw God as mother nurturing in a New Jerusalem that will comfort and nourish its people. Paul told us the cross initiates a new creation. Before Jesus the world had power to influence and persuade us to ignore one another and be self-serving, but the cross has destroyed the power of those set on destructive practices, it brings about a Spirit of strength. We also read about Jesus sending out disciples to preach the Kingdom of God through their faith, words and the deeds they were able to complete through the power of Jesus name. In the readings we focused on a new creation, the Kingdom of God.
The readings this week point us toward Christ through whom all is created and for whom all is created. We see the chosen people trying to follow the Mosaic Law but it does not make them perfect. However, Christ who is in all creation, through him and for him, is perfect and is drawing us toward his perfection. We learn that perfection moves in us when we are able to love God and love our neighbor. We have a redeemer in Christ through whom all things are created, all things. We must be aware that to be in Christ we must love as a creator, we must be selfless like a creator and we must give life for others as a creator. This message leads us to understand the importance of Christ through whom all is created, desiring to usher in the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that makes love paramount and others most holy.Christ who is in all creation, through him and for him, is perfect and is drawing us toward his perfection. We learn that perfection moves in us when we are able to love God and love our neighbor. Click To Tweet
The Kingdom of God is here through Jesus and is not quite here yet because we need more and more people to seek out the Kingdom of God. It is a new creation available to us through the work of those who have come before us but it is also something we must work to build up and hand on to the next generation. It is created through Christ and for Christ, it joins together all creation, everything.
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Psalms 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37. The readings guide us to look for all things created through and for Christ, including the Kingdom of God.
In the first reading from the book of Deuteronomy we read about the Mosaic Law as a means of privilege for Israel. The Mosaic Law showed a moral path to follow. Its teaching was clear and encouraging. Yet in itself, it did not provide Israel with the strength needed to keep it. But by knowing the law, which was not difficult to understand the people of Israel can remain faithful to God, who has made his covenant with them. Of course they have trouble obeying and often need to repent. As they repent God is faithful to his word, and not only faithful but he takes delight in them. We see the law is not a perfect system to make them holy and obedient to God. Thus we will read that God through Christ created a more perfect way, the way of faith and love. Through Christ we learn that to be perfect we must be created new, created through him and for him, which is the way all things are created. We therefore are in Christ as Paul often says and Christ is in us. By seeking Christ within us we can be guided to become a more perfect being, one who loves. Through love the law is not broken and we are made righteous, connected to Christ, in the beginning and through resurrection. The law was a good place for the chosen ones to begin, but only as a means to show the goal and eventually a more perfect way to all. The way of Christ and the Kingdom of God.Through Christ we learn that to be perfect we must be created new, created through him and for him, which is the way all things are created. Click To Tweet
In the second reading from the first letter to the Colossians, Paul gives us a very cosmic view of Christ. He is the image of the invisible God, Christ is the same substance as God so when we see him we see God. He is the firstborn, begotten in the beginning before all creation and first born of those who have died. It is a particular moment in history when Christ resurrection marks a new creation. But we want to look at the beginning, we read a particularly important phrase for our reflection, “For in him were created all things in heaven and earth,” Christ is the firstborn, incarnated in the very beginning, begotten not made, through whom the Father created everything from the beginning. We read also, “all things were created through him and for him.” The whole world with its beauty, complexity and mystery is his workmanship. But not only created through him but created for him. The eternal Son is the goal of all creation. It seems all creation is the Father’s gift to the Son. Christ is the mediator of all creation and redemption, source of reconciliation. We have an ever expanding, fourteen billion year-old cosmos with billions of galaxies and planetary systems and it is all created through Christ, for Christ from the beginning. And then Jesus becomes human, walks among us, and in resurrection creates a new creation for us. He is creator and creature, yet he is unchanged, he took on our nature to change it and make us one with him. As in him all things were created we all hold a piece of him within us. We are pleased to dwell in him and him in us. He is a Cosmic Christ who leads us and serves us, bringing about a new creation, through him. We have been speaking of this as the Kingdom of God and we see this week that it is not only human, it is all things, visible and invisible. The Kingdom of God looks very much like the world today, only it is a Kingdom that recognized Christ as the head, creator and creature, present in the beginning, human in time, resurrected eternally. He calls all of us to himself so we are joined to him in the cosmic oneness, sharing in his creation of all things.He is creator and creature, yet he is unchanged, he took on our nature to change it and make us one with him. As in him all things were created we all hold a piece of him within us. Click To Tweet
In the gospel reading from Luke we read Jesus being questioned about what it takes to inherit eternal life. The answer Jesus hears and claims as correct is to love God and love our neighbor. Then Jesus is asked, “Who is our neighbor?” This question prompts Jesus to tell a story of three men who come across a victim of robbers, left half-dead. Two of the men pass by while the third helps the victim, cleaning him up and taking him to an inn where he looks over him and pays the innkeeper for the man’s needs. He promises to return and take care of anything additional the innkeeper might have spent on the victim. Jesus is looking for us to stay it is this third man who treated the victim like a neighbor. As we have been discussing everything, everyone is created through and for Christ. Therefore all creation has a special relationship with Christ. We are challenged to love everyone like they are our most special friend or sister because in a way we are all related and we are connected through Christ as creator. In order to bring about the Kingdom of God love is critical. We can’t treat others like a commodity or a source of our betterment, we must live for others. It is only in helping the victim, lifting up the downtrodden, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and more that we are able to participate in the Christ creation of all things and in particular the creation of the Kingdom of God.
We have focused these three readings around. “all is created through Christ.” The first of all creation and the first born of the resurrection. Christ is a creator that is ushering in a new Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. We read through the Mosaic Law there is the beginning of a morally righteous person, but it is not enough, we must be made righteous through Christ who dwells in us. We also learn that Christ is the one all is created through and for, from the beginning and eventually until the end. We have Christ in us and pushing us to become like him. We learn taught it is all about love; Christ is creator out of love, he is redeemer out of love and all that is created is for him to love and teach to love. This is the Kingdom of God, it entered fourteen billion years ago and it is not yet created.
We must work to bring about the Kingdom of God. We must create love in the world and make a tipping point so that Christ can return and be recognized. As it is not fully here we have much to do, but Christ knows the Kingdom of God will take much of creation to bring to the forefront. There is no time limit when it must be more fully arrived. The Kingdom of God is at hand when we demonstrate and experience love of the creator and the creation.We must work to bring about the Kingdom of God. We must create love in the world and make a tipping point so that Christ can return and be recognized. Click To Tweet
It is a Kingdom that requires all its subjects proclaim the Kingdom message and work toward enticing others to seek the Kingdom and God.
How do we enter the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God is not a physical Kingdom. We know it is created through and for Christ. As followers we want to enter and be part of the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us ways in which we can enter the Kingdom of God.
First, we see Jesus visited by a Pharisee named Nicodemus at night. He came to Jesus because he recognized Jesus was from God and he wants to know more. Jesus said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” (John 3:3) To be in the Kingdom of God we must have a conversion. We may choose initially to be a Christian based on little information or it may have been chosen for us as children. But ultimately we must choose to be a devoted follower and believer of Jesus with conviction. Jesus tells us that this is being born from above. Many say we must be reborn. But it all comes down to a particular experience of God that we must have as individuals. This experience will bring us to a deeper understanding of the Kingdom of God and how we are to live to help usher it into the world. When we are born again from above our conversion experience includes an anointing through the Holy Spirit. It will be an experience that has a lasting effect on our lives and no matter how much we may move away from our belief it is an experience that we can recall which will remind us of whose we are and that we have been created through Christ for Christ.Ultimately we must choose to be a devoted follower and believer of Jesus with conviction. Jesus tells us that this is being born from above. Click To Tweet
At the beginning of his public ministry Jesus gave a sermon that has a great many blessings, we have called these the beatitudes, and they are from Jesus’ Sermon on the Plan. Jesus opens with a blessing saying, “Blessed are you poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.” (Luke 6:20) This blessings extols the fortune of a person who is favored with the blessing, in this case blessings on the poor. If you are poor, your life is not filled with clutter and attachments. For the most part you are probably concerned with basic needs, food and shelter. This leaves much time for and actually requires prayer. Jesus blessed these poor because they have the Kingdom of God. They are concerned about their neighbor, they know what it is like to need and so can reach out to others and together in poverty try to make a life in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God creates relationship, people depending on people and sharing what they have. For Jesus this is a blessing and it is a way to enter the Kingdom of God.
Jesus told a parable of a rich man who had so much harvest and no place to store it. So he tore down his barns and built bigger ones and stuffed them with his abundance. That very night his life was demanded of him. Jesus used this as an example to say to his disciples don’t worry about your life, or what you will eat or wear. God takes care of the raven and the flowers who do not worry about these things. God will provide what we need and much more for us because the Father knows what we need. Jesus tells them, “Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides. Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.” (Luke 12:31-33) Jesus knows if we are building up treasure on earth then our heart will be on that treasure. To enter the Kingdom of God we must be free to seek God. We don’t have this freedom if our life is focused on worry about the things of the world, and building up a safety net. We should trust God to provide and freely enter the Kingdom of God, proclaiming all that God has done for us, being selfless and other centered, prioritized on building up the Kingdom, not our own kingdom.To enter the Kingdom of God we must be free to seek God. We don’t have this freedom if our life is focused on worry about the things of the world, and building up a safety net. Click To Tweet
At another time, people were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them. The disciples rebuked the people but “Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, ‘Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.’” (Luke 18:16-17) We know that the enthusiasm, trust and innocence of children excites even the grumpiest of us. Jesus is saying we should seek the Kingdom of God with complete trust, complete innocence, total enthusiasm, with joy and eyes of excitement. This should be a statement about our faith. We are required to hear Jesus words and totally believe they are true. If we can have this child-like excitement, we too will discover the Kingdom of God belongs to us.Jesus is saying we should seek the Kingdom of God with complete trust, complete innocence, total enthusiasm, with joy and eyes of excitement. Click To Tweet
There is much more that Jesus has taught about entering the Kingdom of God. Generally to enter the Kingdom of God we must want to be in the Kingdom of God more than anything the world might convince us we want. If we commit ourselves to entering the Kingdom of God we can achieve it. We have seen in these few examples to enter the Kingdom of God we can be born from above, we should be detached and focus on God, we require the freedom to seek God in all things, we must have child-like faith. These are not a to-do list that we must accomplish, entering the Kingdom of God is more about our attitude and behavior. If the Kingdom of God is important to us we will live with it as our priority.We have seen in these few examples to enter the Kingdom of God we can be born from above, we should be detached and focus on God, we require the freedom to seek God in all things, we must have child-like faith. Click To Tweet
The Kingdom of God is so much more
We know that all is created through Christ and for Christ. This included us and as believers in Christ we should live to announce the Kingdom of God, becoming a servant to bring about this creation from Christ so all will recognize it and join. As disciples it is up to us to tell the story of Jesus and a life that can be better. Participating in the mission of Jesus we become an example of the Kingdom life. People should see us and recognize there is more to life than independently accepting accolades and rewards from the kingdoms of the world. In the Kingdom of God all, everything, every spec of sand, every animal, tree and snowflake, is created through Christ and for the Kingdom. We must be Jesus’ partner and a Kingdom creator.In the Kingdom of God all, everything, every spec of sand, every animal, tree and snowflake, is created through Christ and for the Kingdom. Click To Tweet
We will continue our discussion over the next two weeks of this series, will look further into the Kingdom of God. We will discuss; “what the Kingdom is like”, and “the call for the Kingdom to come.” We must recognize all is created through him to see the Kingdom of God.