How to be a better person? # 35 – HOW GREAT IS GOD AND WHERE IS HIS KINGDOM?

How great do we want God to be?  How about this, “He is too great to fit in the universe; yet, He is small enough to fit in a human heart.” It is not a mystery, for, “all things are possible with God” (Mk. 10:27).  There is no limit to God’s enormity or to His ability to live within a child of God.  Jesus said this, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn. 14:23).  God is Spirit and He can blend with the human spirit any time the human heart opens to faith in Christ (Jn. 4:24).  For Paul, the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ are One and the Same; therefore, They lived as One in the believer (Ro. 8:9-17). 
Jesus proclaimed, “The time has come.  The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news”(Mk. 1:15).  When the Pharisees asked Jesus to set a time, he replied, “The kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you” (Lk. 17:20-21).  During Jesus’ trial, Pilate asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my kingdom is from another place” (Jn. 18:33,36).  The other place is the human heart.  To the Hebrews, the heart was the mind or the soul that directed the human body to serve the Creator.  The human body was the intended temple of God’s Spirit and not some building or organization (I Cor. 3:17; 6:19-20).   
Recently, I heard two good theological sermons on God and His Kingdom.  Everything the two ministers shared was Biblically sound.  For a long time, I too would have been content with a similar conclusion.  I too believe in the Second Coming of Christ and in God’s New World.  My problem is that Jesus did appoint a location for His kingdom and it is not in heaven.  In fact it is on earth.  More specifically, it is “within you.” The Kingdom, as well as God are located or dwell in a believer’s conscience, heart or soul.  It is not visible but it is most certainly livable.  To a Hebrew, the dead no longer praise God, only the living do (Ps. 115:17-18).  It is the here and the now that one prepares for the hereafter.  With the entrance of Immanuel (God with us) into the world, God made His kingdom or reign accessible to man Mt. 1:23).  Jesus told his opposition, “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt. 12:28).  John the Baptist in prison, hoped that the Messiah would free him asked, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor.  Blessed is the person that is not offended by me” (Mt. 11:2-6).  What Jesus did, his twelve and seventy-two were instructed to do likewise (Lk. 9:1-11; 10:1-24).  The Risen Christ gave the same orders to His followers.  He said to them, “Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (Jn. 20:21-23). 
On Pentecost Day, the Holy Spirit was granted to all believers for the purpose of spreading the kingdom or the Good News (Ac. 1:1-11).  With it came the promise that Christ would return to be with them.  The disciples understood that the Lord would return during their time and so has every generation believed that He would come back in their life.  In the Great Commission of the kingdom Jesus concluded, “And I assure you I will be with you always, to the very end of the ages” (Mt. 28:20).  The Greek text has the following, “And behold (be aware) I am with you every day (all days) throughout all generation (all ages).” Then Jesus made this promise, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you (disciples).  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (Jn. 14:18-21).  He will do it invisibly in the Counselor or the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of truth.  Jesus explained, “The Spirit will take what is mine and make it known to you” (Jn. 16:5-16).   All this happened because Jesus returned to the Father.  He told Mary, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.  Go and tell my brothers, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (Jn. 20:17). 
Where is Jesus now?  We quote John 14:1-4 and believe He is in heaven preparing for us a place to be with him.  Then why did He add, “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” The disciples did not understand and Thomas asked for an explanation and Jesus responded saying, “I am the way the truth and the life.” To me it means that Jesus came back in the Spirit and is now present in helping us charter our life through the valley of death.  It is not heaven that is being prepared but we are.  It is the exalted or lifted up Jesus in the Spirit that is drawing all men unto him (Jn. 12:32).  What preparation must we make to qualify for our journey with Christ into the eternal spirit world?  Lip service and faith without deeds will not suffice (Mt. 15:8; 5:16).   Let us go back to the beginning of this article.  “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”  Also, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I tell you” (Lk. 6:46)?  And what was He teaching and telling them?  It is summed up in the second commandment, “Love they neighbor as you do yourself.”  It is rendering inconspicuous service to people in need.  The disciples had to rely on their memory as to what Jesus had taught we are privileged of having His written word to guide us.  More than that, we have Jesus’ assurance that He and the Father prefer to live and reign in our hearts.  “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest, and repent.  Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:19-20).