The Kingdom of God Part 9: Living in the Already and the Not Yet
This edition is the last in my series on the Kingdom of God. To review, I have explored several different areas about the Kingdom of God. This exploration is in no way intended to be an exhaustive look but to hit upon some themes I believe God wanted me to write about and deliver. I talked about how the Kingdom is at war – that those who are citizens of the Kingdom of God are an invading force into this world controlled by the powers of evil. I also reviewed the parables of Matthew 13, where Jesus describes the Kingdom of God as invasive – it gets everywhere into our lives. I also reviewed how we need to come to the Kingdom of God as a child – not in our pomposity, but in our humility. But the critical part to remember in all of this is there can be only one King in the Kingdom of God. Jesus must be the focus and center of all we are and all we do. But the fantastic thing is, we can approach the throne of the King in prayer, and He dialogues and listens to us! This concept of prayer is the gospel of the Kingdom of God – it’s all about Jesus and His reign as King.
My first two articles on the Kingdom of God dealt with what the Kingdom of God is and how do we live in that Kingdom. I want to come back to those thoughts and expand on them. The Kingdom of God is not something that is a far off dream. It is not something we hope for when we die. It is right here, right now. We are to live in the Kingdom of God by the code of the Beatitudes of Matthew 5. However, this creates tension.
The Kingdom of God has not come to its full reality. Revelation 20-21 describes the Kingdom of God in its fullness. Jesus returns and sets everything to rights. There is new Creation with a new Heaven (where God’s presence dwells eternally) and a new Earth (His very good creation). The sin of our first parents damaged the connection between God’s presence and His creation. In those two chapters, God finishes the reclamation project started in Genesis and reclaims His people as His own. His people are then put in charge of this New Creation to enjoy His works eternally and steward His New Creation. But that is the “not yet.”
The tension is this – we live in the here and now. Sin still runs wild. The enemy still has significant control of regions on this planet – both physical and spiritual. Those who live in the Kingdom are still persecuted for their faith. As we live out our lives in the here and now, sometimes we lose the perspective of the “Not yet.” Sometimes we can get so caught up in the “already” that we forget the hope that Jesus provides in the fullness of His Kingdom.
That hope means that we can still approach the King in prayer.
That hope means that we are to spread the word of the gospel to bring more people into the Kingdom.
That hope means that, while we are still under the curse of death, Jesus can give us a glimpse of His power through the Holy Spirit in healing both spiritual and physical.
That hope means that no matter what our governments decide or whatever happens in politics, Jesus is still King, and nothing can change that.
That hope means that our citizenship in the Kingdom of God (by deciding to accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus and receiving His Holy Spirit) is our paramount citizenship. All memberships and citizenships are nothing compared to the benefits of being members of the Kingdom.
That hope means that our circumstances, no matter how dire, have the promise and the presence of God. He never leaves or abandons us. We can leave Him, but He never leaves us.
Our citizenship in the Kingdom of God means that we have a major job to do – to be ambassadors to the King. Our experiences in the Kingdom are not meant to be held on to but given away. Each and every citizen of the Kingdom of God is called to bring this hope of the “not yet” to those living in the Kingdom of darkness – those who do not know Jesus. The King equips every citizen through the power of the Holy Spirit to bring the good news – the gospel – to a sick and dying world. There are no exceptions; everyone is called to that task. We are called to take all that hope and continue the invasion, bringing more people into that hope.
Yes, we live in the “already.” We live amid turmoil and strife. But we also have our toes in the “not yet.” Our hope is based upon Jesus and His promises and is evidenced by His working through us to bring others into the Kingdom. If you have not yet entered the Kingdom of God, if you are living outside that Kingdom, your hope is in futility. Living in the Kingdom of God means that our hope is not only assured but rests in the character of the King- Jesus our Messiah.