Imagine for a moment the sun blazing furiously from its heavenly perch, beating on your brow as you trudge a long, dusty road. You come upon a lake and find yourself hoping to perhaps buy some fish, a real treat for you and your family, but are distracted when you see a crowd gathered on the shore. You then hear a voice call out with a strange tone of authority.
“The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel.” The commanding voice somehow draws you closer with cords of curiosity. As you near the mass of people who stand almost silently with attentive gazes fixed upon a man whose own eyes seem to belong in a face far older than the one in which they rest, you slow down and nearly stop.
“Kingdom of God?” you muse. “I wonder what He means.” As your own stare joins the stares of those in the crowd, the Man moves to the lake’s edge and solemnly faces two rugged fishermen mending their nets. You recognize them as Simon and Andrew, having purchased fish from them on past excursions to the lake.
The stranger leans forward and says just loud enough to be heard by those standing around, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” He then simply turns and makes His way through the crowd. To your astonishment, Simon and Andrew immediately stand up and hurry after Him, attempting to maneuver through the men, women and children who’ve closed in behind Him. At first, your gaze follows the stranger, but then you glance back at the now empty boats pulled up on the shore, with the un-repaired nets draped over their sides, dangling in the water… forgotten (from Mark 1:14-18).
“The Kingdom of God is at hand,” you repeat to yourself. “Kingdom of God.”
Even today, we may have for ourselves a lot of questions about the Kingdom of God. For instance, “how does one recognize the Kingdom of God?”, “What does it look like?”, and, “If it was ‘at hand’ back then, where is it now?”
Jesus said much about the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Chapter 13 in the Gospel of Matthew alone has seven “word pictures” of the Kingdom, not to mention the countless other references throughout the rest of the Gospels. “The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field…. It is like a mustard seed…. It is like a treasure hidden in the field…. It is like a merchant seeking fine pearls…. It is like a dragnet cast into the sea, gathering fish of every kind.”
Make no mistake. The Kingdom of God was nothing less and nothing other than the power, provision and presence of God at work in His creation through His people. Think of it! God’s Kingdom, knowing no boundaries in our hearts, transforming our character so profoundly that His presence in us is undeniable and His work through us is unmistakable!
Do you want to make a difference in the world? Then let God transform what you are into something greater than who you are in of yourself. “He must increase, but I must decrease,” said John the Baptist in John 3:30, beautifully surrendering the spotlight of God’s message to Jesus, the One to Whom it truly belonged.
“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened” (Matthew 13:33 ESV).
Like leaven? Though it is such a little thing it affects the whole loaf of bread; invisibly massaged through the dough, it changes every part by its presence.
Is the Kingdom of God still at hand today? It is… inasmuch as God’s people live lives surrendered to His holiness and love.
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death…. By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:14, 16-18 ESV).
I recall an occasion when I was talking with a friend of mine in a missions agency operating in different parts of the world. He mentioned that he had just been on the phone regarding the fate of six orphaned children from Nepal (ages 6-12). They had been taken to an orphanage in India only to be turned away for lack of room and resources. The one who had brought them nearly gave up in despair, prepared to leave them to fend for themselves in a train station. “After all,” he thought, “begging here in this station will be better than the life that they would have had where I had found them.
Then hearing of one orphanage that might yet take them, he led them there. Run by a little woman of God who has a big faith in Jesus, she simply said, “We have no means to care for them, but I cannot send them away. They may stay. Somehow, the Lord will meet the need.”
When I shared this true story from my friend with the people of our church, even the children were moved to begin to work towards meeting this need and began to give so that it might be met. For some reason they sensed that they were called by God to address the physical needs of these six children. And, of course, in the meeting of these physical needs, the love of God is now moving in practical ways so that the spiritual needs, the eternal ones, may also be engaged.
What needs is God wanting to address through you? Are you “tuned in” to God’s work in your life enough to recognize His invitation? Can you recognize the Kingdom of God when you see it? Can it be seen in you?
May it be seen ever increasingly more so in you as you “hunger for more” of God in your life.
Copyright © Thom Mollohan