Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Mark 1: 15

 

So many of us in the world of the Christian faith get very energized by the promise of an end to all of the evil and the corruption of this world, and we look with a sense of great anticipation for the moment when this changed existence will become our own reality. This human and earthly transformation is an absolute promise that God has made, and I have total confidence and faith that He will fulfill it. Yet, Jesus said from the very beginning of His own time with us on earth that the time was now and that restoration was ours for the taking.

 

As I consider the glory, wonder, and majesty of Christ, and I pause to reflect on how far He traveled, what He gave up, and the degree to which He suffered for me, the only words that come to mind in response are, “Thank you.” That may be a fine starting point, but that is not what Christ actually wants from us. He wants us to accept the fact that He has already given us the opportunity to live in the presence of our Creator every moment of each day, that we are newly reformed into the God-image bearing people that we were designed to be, and that we are charged with the purpose of carrying the message of our hope that has been found in God’s grace to the unredeemed people of our own world.

 

Believing in the gospel means that we buy into the total truth that God has laid out before us. That requires openness to the fact that none of us are perfect. So, there will be crises and struggles of faith that will cause the journey to have its rough and challenging times. Still, the Lord promises that He has an answer for every one of these hard aspects of life, and He calls to each of us to keep our eyes focused outwardly and upward toward Him. Then, we will see and understand His very real presence with us through it all. Jesus is asking us to gather around Him and to follow Him through every day of this life, for the promised kingdom of God is our home here and now.

 

Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Ephesians 4: 24

 

This may not be a very popular thought to share, but it does seem that in the world of Christian faith many of us get really focused on the anticipation of the return of Jesus and on all of the good things that we believe will be accomplished at that time. We look forward to the end of the struggles that are so very real in our lives, we anticipate the day that our knees and our backs won’t ache, we dream of a day when we will no longer be forced to count our pennies in order to try to figure out how to handle the mountain of dollars that our bills are demanding, and we fixate on a moment when our hearts will no longer be broken. These are good things to anticipate, but they should not represent our greatest form of hope, and that form of change must not be our primary interest.

 

You see, Christ has already come. He is here, and He is alive and in command of this world. Certainly there is a promised future time when the Father will send Jesus back to this world to completely take it away from Satan, and at the end of that process, this world will be restored totally to its created state of glory. But there is a much quicker way to get there for people who are willing to respond to God’s call to our hearts and join Christ in the fight for the souls of people. We need to accept the fact that personal changes, the areas where we need Christ to work in us in order to transform us in His image, are even more important for us and for God’s kingdom than that final permanent restoration of all of Creation. For as we are changed from our sin-afflicted human parent images into our grace-of-God given created image, we are made over into people who bring that same grace and love into this world, whose ability to remain hopeful through all that life throws at us is noticeable, and who are never self-satisfied but are always seeking to know the Lord more fully.

 

The pain of life and of living is real, the challenges are grueling, and the fears that it all generates are intense. Still, these are the elements of our existence that demonstrate the need for a relationship with Christ, and living through these events and times should cause us to seek to know Him better. The Lord does have answers for us, and He seldom responds to our needs by removing the source of the struggle. Rather, God usually brings about another step in the life-long process of change from old self into Christ-like newness. How much we embrace transformation is our choice; yet, as we seek it and focus on it, we bring the glory of the Lord more fully into our lives, and we spend more of our time in the real presence of God.

 

Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and thekingdomofGodis at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Mark 1: 15

 

So many of us in the world of the Christian faith get very energized by the promise of an end to all of the evil and the corruption of this world, and we look with a sense of great anticipation for the moment when this changed existence will become our own reality. This human and earthly transformation is an absolute promise that God has made, and I have total confidence and faith that He will fulfill it. Yet, Jesus said from the very beginning of His own time with us on earth that the time was now and that restoration was ours for the taking.

 

As I consider the glory, wonder, and majesty of Christ, and I pause to reflect on how far He traveled, what He gave up, and the degree to which He suffered for me, the only words that come to mind in response are, “Thank you.” That may be a fine starting point, but that is not what Christ actually wants from us. He wants us to accept the fact that He has already given us the opportunity to live in the presence of our Creator every moment of each day, that we are newly reformed into the God-image bearing people that we were designed to be, and that we are charged with the purpose of carrying the message of our hope that has been found in God’s grace to the unredeemed people of our own world.

 

Believing in the gospel means that we buy into the total truth that God has laid out before us, and that will require openness to the fact that none of us are perfect. So, there will be crises and struggles of faith that will cause the journey to have its rough and challenging times. Still, the Lord promises that He has an answer for every one of these hard aspects of life, and He calls to each of us to keep our eyes focused outwardly and upward toward Him. Then, we will see and understand His very real presence with us through it all. Jesus is asking us to gather around Him and to follow Him through every day of this life, for the promisedkingdomofGodis our home here and now.