What is the “birthdate” of The United States of America? July 4, 1776, is when the Declaration of Independence was signed, but that was to document the unanimous vote for independence by the Continental Congress that happened two days earlier, on July 2. John Adams considered that to be the birthdate of the new nation. Britain, of course, disputed that a new nation had been formed at all, and if Britain had won the war that followed, there would have been no new nation—only a temporary rebellion.
For a very long time, the reality of a new people, a new kingdom, had gradually been forming in the minds and hearts, the practices and customs, of the inhabitants of the colonies. In some ways no nation can fully be described by maps or declarations or censuses.
This is especially true of the kingdom of God.
One day the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. They wanted to know when the anticipated war of independence from Rome would begin so that the Jews could once again have their own nation.
Jesus’ reply would have been hard for them to understand. The kingdom of God cannot be located on a map. It is not in this place or that place. It has no boundaries and cannot be counted by a census. Rather, the kingdom of God is “in your midst.”
Why “in your midst”? Because Jesus was in their midst. In Jesus the new reign of God for humanity had begun. As Jesus forgave people their sins, explained the truth of God, healed diseases, cast out evil spirits, and gave people hope for eternal life, he was establishing something so much more than a nation. He was giving people their lives back. Sin and Satan and death are the opponents, not Rome or an overseas king.
So if you’re waiting for the war against sin, evil, doubt, and fear to begin, it already has. And our best hope of gaining ground is to see Jesus “in our midst” with eyes of faith.
PONDER: What have you experienced in life that shows that God is in our midst now?
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Jesus ushered in the reign of God during his time on Earth. Since Jesus came and lived among us, anyone who puts his or her trust in God experiences his kingdom. Anywhere God is at work in our lives, his kingdom comes into focus.
Read Luke 17:20-21. When Jesus began speaking about the kingdom of God, many people thought it was going to be an earthly kingdom, that the Jews would be free from the domination of the Roman Empire. In these verses, Jesus explains that the kingdom of God is not that kind of kingdom. We experience the kingdom though the love of others, growing in our relationship with God, and when people come to know Jesus. Who in your life has put their trust in Jesus? How do these people help you understand God?