This fall we plan to do a six-part sermon series called Kingdom Citizens. We believe that in our present circumstances following Jesus requires that we deepen our understanding of how to live in the kingdom of God while also living in the kingdom of this world.
2020: What a year it’s been!
We are living through a tumultuous year, aren’t we? The coronavirus pandemic, the unrest in our cities following George Floyd’s death, and the upcoming presidential election have combined to shake up people’s lives and our world. There is a growing polarization over everything from wearing masks to whom to vote for as president. The growing call to reckon with our county’s history of racism also brings with it confusion about how to respond and who is responsible for what. How do we respond to what we see?
One option is to withdraw into insulated Christian bubbles. Another is to pin our hopes on some big change: if we can only elect so-and-so, or get everyone to agree on such-and-such, or use technology to solve problem x, then everything will be good. A third option is to simply give up trying to be different, stop trying to swim upstream against the culture, and blend in with everyone around us. But Jesus has a better way, and the key is to understand what it means to be part of his kingdom.
What is the Kingdom of God?
What is the kingdom of God? It is actually Jesus’ central message. Jesus comes on the scene announcing, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) When the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she’ll give birth to Jesus, he tells her that “of [Jesus’] kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:34). Jesus explains his ministry as preaching “the good news of the kingdom of God” to the towns of Israel (Luke 4:42).
What is the kingdom of God? My sense is that for many Christians, we have a vague sense of what it might be, but we aren’t very clear about the specifics. When does it come? How does it come? If God is already King of everything, how can there be this other thing called the kingdom of God? We’ll explore these questions further in next week’s Midweek Musing, and develop them in the sermons beginning on Sunday, September 13. I’m excited that we’re going to be partnering with Sojourn Church in this series and I’ll explain more about that next week as well.
I believe this season presents amazing opportunities to us as Christians and as a church. We have the opportunity to demonstrate a unity that transcends politics and race, uniting around the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have the opportunity to reject anger, fear, violence, and hate and instead work for the good of our city through caring for people affected by the economic downturn and the depression, loneliness, and disorientation created by the pandemic. We have the opportunity to proclaim a message of hope in a kingdom that never ends under the wise, powerful, saving, benevolent King Jesus. I hope and pray that this series will deepen our understanding of his kingdom and equip us to live in our world as citizens of his kingdom.