‘The time has come—the Kingdom is here. Repent and believe the good news!’
At our Living Waters wrap up party last week, one leader reflected: ‘Serving Kingdom-minded people week after week grounded me amid the swirl of a pandemic, political mayhem, the drama of my unfinished story. Kingdom people keep me sane.’
Kingdom people. These are Christians who earnestly seek to live under the rule and reign of Jesus. We unclench our fists and grasp His healing hand then allow Him to activate ours. Poised in faith toward others, we continue His saving work through outstretched, praying hands. We expect Jesus to encounter us daily; we declare amazedly, as for the first time, ‘A new teaching, and with authority’ (Mk. 1:27)!
Perhaps our urgency is based on vulnerability to other kingdoms—we sense the nearness of familiar idols, mindless distractions, irrational fears, real threats, numbing loss. We rouse one another to rediscover Jesus’ rule in our lives and to extend that rule in everyday relationships.
How timely in a pandemic where people avoid others like the plague and imprison themselves in fear-driven isolation! We extend Jesus’ Kingdom of Life over any phobic reaction of men and declare: ‘Jesus…through death, destroyed the one who has the power of death, that is the Devil, and freed those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their lives’ (Heb. 2: 14, 15).
We contend for connection—extending this Kingdom of Life over slavery to fear must be incarnational. Just as Jesus brought His Father’s Kingdom in the flesh, so must we extend the Kingdom human-to-human. Yes, we exercise limits in a pandemic and yes, we go to prisoners of fear and do what God asks of us. The King grants us nourishing, healing, prophetic words for persons who wither without them. I witness in many a greater temptation to sin and misbegotten identities, a fear-based slouch into old kingdoms. We rouse His reign, and we extend it to the weak. Jesus’ rule of Life, not sin unto death, has the last word.
Expect warfare. As we step up our Kingdom offering in this season, the enemy rolls in like smog to wrap us in his shroud. We discern this temptation to despair as born of hell, not our hearts; we pick up the sword and refuse it. Jesus releases us. He helps us in myriad ways, including dreams. ‘Even at night, my heart instructs me’ (Ps. 16:7).
A few nights ago, I dreamt of an arduous journey over a trail to the ocean obstructed by boulders and poisonous beasts. All I recall was a voice instructing me to stay fixed on Him and His Kingdom rule. On one hand, I could barely proceed, and on the other, I had no fear. When I arrived at the shore, I realized that I was enclosed by barbed wire, like the boundaries demarcating a naval yard. I had no idea how I would exit and continue the Way. Still, no fear. The King and Kingdom presence was palpable. Rather than dread, I felt joyful and expectant that the One who freed me for the journey thus far would make the Way. I awoke revitalized by and for the Kingdom, buoyant in route to morning Mass.
‘From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven has been advancing forcefully, and forceful men and women lay hold of it’ (Matt. 11:12).