Archive for September 7, 2011
“You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the
Kingdom of God is already among you.”
In yesterday’s reflection, I repeated what I have often written as we have
made our way through the Gospel of Luke. The kingdom of God is both present and
future. It is already here…and not yet here.
The “already and not-yet” reality of the reign of God leads us to wonder: If
it is already here in some sense, where is it? Many answer this question by
saying: “It is in your heart.” They may base this response on some English
translations of Luke 17:21 that read “The kingdom of God is within you” (see the
for example). Indeed, the original Greek of this verse can be translated either
as “The kingdom of God is within you” or “The kingdom of God is among you/in
your midst.” Yet, when we note the fact that Jesus was speaking with the
Pharisees, and when we pay attention to his teaching on the kingdom found
throughout the Gospels, the “among you” translation is to be preferred. Jesus
was not telling the Pharisees that God was already reigning in their hearts.
Rather, he was saying to them that the kingdom of God was among them because it
was present in Jesus himself, in his words, deeds, and person.
Although we are not able to be with Jesus physically, like the Pharisees in
Luke 17, we experience the kingdom of God in and through Jesus. We enter the
kingdom when we respond in faith to the good news of God’s love in Christ. We
live in the power of the kingdom through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
Of course, therefore, the kingdom of God touches our hearts. Indeed, you might
even say that the reign of God should claim and fill our hearts. Yet the kingdom
impacts, not just our interior life, but our exterior life as well. It should be
within us, among us, and extended through us when we live as citizens of the
kingdom in every sphere of life.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In what ways do you
experience the kingdom of God in your life? How does your relationship with
Jesus help you to live as a citizen of the kingdom?
Help me, dear Lord, to be so deeply connected to you that I might experience
the kingdom of God, not just in church or in my devotions, but each moment of
each day. May I reflect and extend your kingdom through my words and deeds. And
may all the glory go to you. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: If you’re looking for a
more in-depth discussion of Luke 17:21, you might find helpful my series
entitled: What Was the Message of Jesus?