Forgive me, O God, for those thoughts and deeds that banished your peace, and in your mercy refresh me to receive it anew. Grant me humility to let go of the disappointments of this day – disappointments in myself and in others – that tonight might bring restful peace. In the awesome name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Daily Archives: May 30, 2021
“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 4:17).
I have always found it interesting that the first recorded words of Jesus’ ministry are the ones that we find in Matthew 4:17. I find them particularly interesting because within these words there is am implication as to what Jesus’ kingdom is about and what is expected from those who call themselves Jesus’ disciples.
First and foremost – one of the things that I feel we neglect to realize today is that the kingdom of heaven is not something that we have to wait for. Yes, there is an element of this kingdom that we must anticipate for it has not reached its culmination. However, one of the things that is sobering is the fact that when Jesus entered the human fray by way of his birth – the kingdom of heaven was ushered in with all its fullness.
Think about this for a moment. The kingdom of heaven. It is here and amongst us now. That should have us take pause simply at the way we live our lives. The reality is – day in and day out, whether we are conscious of it or not – we are standing in the presence and before the presence of the Sacred and Holy. The kingdom of heaven is present in our midst. The question is: do we live as though we believe in this reality? Whether or not we believe it – the kingdom of heaven includes the mundane of our lives. Every step we take, every breath we take, it is done in the spectrum of this kingdom of heaven.
This goes to say, if we believe that the kingdom of heaven is at hand – and that we stand in the midst of this new reality ushered in through Jesus – everything changes. If there is one thing that we know – the profane can never dwell in the presence of the Holy. The two natures are too conflicting, they will always stand in opposition of one another.
But here’s the deal, Jesus knew this. Jesus came to intervene in order that we may be able to once again be reconciled to God. However, this entails a radical change. A seriously radical change. That is precisely why Jesus begins with these initial words in his ministry.
We are an audacious lot. We think that we are either entitled the kingdom or we can get in on our good merit and graces. But the implication of this verse speaks otherwise. If we believe that it is by our own effort or merit, we are totally lost for to have that mentality when looking at the kingdom of God is perhaps the most arrogant posture we can have.
The Kingdom of heaven is inherited by those who humble themselves before the Lord. The kingdom of God is inherited by those who know that they are a wretched, sinful lot who have no hope aside from Jesus. The kingdom of heaven is inherited by those who realize that in their present state – they stand condemned.
You see, the kingdom of heaven is only found when one humbles themselves and seeks a radical transformation of the heart – for we know that the inclinations of the heart in and of themselves are evil. The kingdom will not be found by those who believe no change is necessary. There is no room in the kingdom of heaven for those who hold as tightly to this world as the next. The kingdom of heaven is only found when we loose our grip on this world, on our own “self right”…and cling to the Old Rugged Cross.
To repent means to have a radical change and shift in perspective and direction. With Jesus, that shift is possible.
We cannot scam God – we must either seek the kingdom in all of its fullness or not. But unless there is a radical change, a circumcision of the heart in which the sinful self is eradicated, that kingdom will always be an allusion that is just outside our grip.