Luke 17: 18-37. 1 Thess 5:16-18.
The Kingdom of God. What would it look like? A conquering army, a victorious popular uprising, signs and wonders? The Pharisees wanted to know, Luke records in ch 17, when would it come? The anticipation, the question had been building throughout the gospel. Israel’s God and King returning to rule.
Jesus turns Israel’s expectations inside out. Literally..
“The Kingdom of God is within you” v21. Imagine hearing this for the first time. Unexpected. Shocking. God arrives to rule, to regain His rightful place in the territory of the human heart!
At one level this seems insignificant – perhaps unobserved amid life with its eating, drinking, marrying v27, planting, building, buying and selling v28; activities both necessary and routine. Who sees the human heart amid this backdrop? Surely these activities are the important things; measures of success, markers of happiness?
What we don’t see, God sees. Very significant- it brings judgement. Judgement that strikes by surprise; no warning given, no change in human activity, and strikes with destruction for those who, in their hearts, reject Jesus v25.
Paul reminds his readers in 1Thess 5:16-18 that the Kingdom of God is within, as he states what God’s will is for them. God’s will, or God’s rule, His Kingdom, established in Christ Jesus, in you. Simply; be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances! Wow ! Aren’t we sometimes joyful when circumstances turn out well, pray intermittently, give thanks sometimes, grumble often?
Our generous loving God wants us to be joyful. Not when our emotion are bubbling. Joy in the deep awareness that we are loved in Jesus; forgiven, redeemed.
Not… when I am doing well, Jesus must love me more…
Not… when I am doing badly, Jesus must love me less…
But… Jesus loves me! Joy. Always.
Pray continually. Not a burden,a task, but an expression of our living relationship with a loving Father, acknowledging God as the Source; of creation and new creation, and us as dependent. Totally. Always. If we depend on ourselves, our abilities, we have drifted – and won’t be praying, won’t experience that moment by moment faith.
Give thanks in all circumstances. Buying, selling, planting and building aren’t the important things, but that the Kingdom of God has arrived! Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. No matter what circumstances you are in; afraid, tempted, hurting – give thanks to God that Jesus is with you. With you. In all circumstances. The Kingdom of God is within you
Be joyful. God wants you to be.
Be in constant communication with Him. Relationship. Dependent.
Be grateful for the Kingdom coming. To you.