Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” [ ]
“Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
The kingdom of God is in your midst.
There was a time when Amy and I loved the Left Behind series of books. I am pretty sure we read them all and anticipated the release of each one. We were in a sub-culture of Christianity where that kind of theology was really important and very much embraced.
There was this sense that Jesus would return any minute. This meant that we needed to believe the right things, right now, and make sure that everyone else believed the right things, right now. This awareness that time was short and the people around us were in danger of being Left Behind, really had an effect on us.
But then there was the shift. The great realization that the theology of Left Behind was built on one or two verses, a theological house of cards. It was vapor.
As I studied the Scriptures more deeply and read more broadly, it became apparent that the deeper reality is that Jesus had ushered in his kingdom. It’s here when we start to look for it.
Anywhere we see reconciliation and restoration of relationships is evidence of the kingdom. Anywhere we see grace, mercy, compassion, and empathy is evidence of the kingdom. Anywhere we see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control is evidence of the kingdom.
When you realize that the kingdom of heaven is here, we see it everywhere. It’s as obvious and plain as a vulture circling.
In this passage Jesus talks about the second coming, but it’s in context with the reality that the kingdom is in our midst already. When Jesus does return it will be obvious. It will be clear. Nobody will miss it.
But that’s not the point of the story here.
The point of the story is that we need to live life. We must go about doing the normal everyday things that we do but do so with an awareness of the presence of the kingdom of God in our midst.
What if we decided to start seeing the beauty around us? Do you think it’s possible to see the glory of God in the faces of those around you? I do.
Viktor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, builds off Nietzche’s quote, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is to clarify your why. Frankl talked about the intense role that religion and faith had in the concentration camps. For many, their faith became their why which allowed them to survive their how.
I’d love to hear from you, what evidence do you see of the kingdom of God in your world?