Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Luke 17:20-21
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Certainly, 2020 was nothing like any of us expected. We began the year with high hopes, launching officially as our own church in a new denomination. Little did we know that terms such as lockdown, COVID-19, Zoom, and Youtube Live would become a regular part of our working vocabulary.
As 2021 begins, many of us long for things to return to “normal.” With this mindset, there is a real temptation to resume chasing after goals such as comfort and prosperity. But if this past year has taught us anything, it has taught us how fragile and fleeting those goals can be. There is a real cry in our hearts that we are meant for things far greater and far more permanent, and the Bible agrees. There is indeed a higher calling that the Lord has bestowed upon us: we were created to become esteemed stewards of a loftier and much more worthwhile goal.
When Jesus burst onto the scene in public ministry, his message was clear: “The kingdom of God is at hand.” And through his teaching, preaching,and healing, Jesus revealed to humanity the truth and power of this kingdom. It is for this kingdom that we were created.
According to Jesus, we have been given the birthright and authority, through Christ, to be both receivers and distributors of this kingdom power, a power that leads to true human flourishing in all aspects of life: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
As we look around, it is painfully clear that real brokenness and injustice still remain entrenched in our world. Therefore, it is easy to become discouraged, wondering what possible difference we can make. But the truth of the matter is this: Through Jesus, the redemptive forces of the kingdom have already broken into our world, working progressively to renew and conform it into his image. We are called alongside God as co-laborers in bringing the reality and power of God’s kingdom into this world. And because God has promised this battle — from the perspective of eternity — has already been won, we can labor with joy and perseverance and conviction. One day, we will indeed see the realization of the kingdom in our world in its glorious fullness.
Therefore, when we echo the Lord’s Prayer, and ask God, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), we can pray with boldness and confidence because we believe such a day is certain and imminent. Furthermore, we can live each day, loving God and loving our neighbor, with unassailable security and God-supplied courage because we are actively participating in a kingdom that is perpetually on the move and cannot be stopped.
So this year, we will focus on learning about the nature and characteristics of the kingdom of heaven and how this kingdom impacts our world now. We will emphasize discipleship so that we are collectively equipped and mobilized to help bring about the reality of God’s kingdom in our world. And we will regularly and continually keep the new heaven and new earth in our sights, for we are most alive today when we are empowered and filled with the joy and vision of our future fullness and hope.
Lord, may your kingdom come!
Listen to Pastor Bob unpack some of the reasons for our theme this year and what to expect in 2021.