July 5, 2020 - Pastor Message05/19/2021
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world…’” (John 18:36)
“Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:2021).
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).
Continuing our series on the big problems of our time, the answer to all our problems is found in our quest for the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the ultimate hunger of every human heart and the ultimate goal of all our decisions, even if we fail to recognize that. It is no exaggeration to say that we exist in this world to claim our place in God’s kingdom, and yet, God’s kingdom is not of this world, as Jesus himself tells Pontius Pilate in the quote above. But it is also not completely removed from this world, as we read in the passage from Luke above. So what is the kingdom of God, and how does it relate to this world, with all its problems?
The kingdom of God is the biblical expression of the complete fulfillment of God’s will for us and for creation, which he has revealed gradually throughout all of time, beginning with creation itself, developed through his special relationship with his chosen people, the Israelites, fully embodied in his Son, Jesus Christ, and now extended to all through the work of the Church. It is the perfect state of being for which we all strive, realizing the promise that God has planted in each of our hearts, which we frustrate by our sin, but which God enables us to achieve through the grace of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
It is a reality at once both here but not here, like victory in a football game. Victory is not something that happens only at the end of the game. It is the result of many smaller victories on the field during the game: a smooth snap, a successful block, an accurate pass, a clean reception, a quick step, a first down, a touchdown. All of these victories share in and make possible the ultimate victory, as is so with the kingdom of God. It is not simply something we experience at the end of our lives or the end of time. We experience it in partial and incomplete ways every day, every time we choose God’s kingdom over sin and the powers of this world. Every time we choose love over hate, there is the kingdom of God. Every time we choose forgiveness over revenge, there is the kingdom of God. Every time we choose to suffer ourselves over making others suffer, there is the kingdom of God.
Like the patient mercy of God, working his plan out over eons, so our patient, Christlike lives gradually bring about God’s kingdom, but each step we take is a part of that journey and contributes to the ultimate victory. May we remember that in these chaotic times and reach out to others only and always with God’s mercy. Then, together, we will take another step toward the realization of God’s kingdom, here but not here yet, and true and lasting peace.Fr. Marc Stockton