The Kingdom of heaven is…now and not yet

the-pathway-ian-david-soar“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:31-34).  It is clear that the kingdom of heaven, the place where God lives and God reigns, is not yet.  It has been being prepared – risinggrowing and waiting – since the beginning, since God spoke light and light was.  

It is obvious that there are places God’s reign is not full, places in the world, places in your own life, places in your own heart.  Jesus wouldn’t have taught us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” if the kingdom of heaven was already fully present within and as our world.  In a way, we can praise God for this: that this world of death, decay and division is not God’s final answer for creation.  But this does not mean that we can, as some tragically and with dire consequences have done, throw the whole thing out.  The kingdom of heaven is indeed not yet, but the kingdom of heaven is also now.  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15 – also found in Matthew 3:2, emphasis mine).  As we’ve seen, “In fact, the kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:20, emphasis mine).  There are places within our world, our lives and our hearts where God is reigning: wheat and weeds are growing up together.  There are things about this world, this life, that are going to last and it’s not always easy to tell what they are.

But we are involved in the kingdom of heaven coming about on earth.  “Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mathew 16:15-19).  This passage may just be referring to the Apostle Peter or it may refer to the Church as a whole; but either way, human beings are involved in the inbreaking of the kingdom of heaven.  That is the “now” part.  But humanity cannot by itself bring about the kingdom of heaven, progressing ever on towards a utopian existence here on earth as many vestiges of modern life would still have us believe.  For as Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is heaven.”  Only that, only the kingdom prepared before the foundation of the world, is worth the wait.  Yes, Lord, Your will and not our own: now and in the not yet.

 

 

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