What does it mean to us today that the Kingdom of God has come near? This is the question we have to ask ourselves after hearing the reading from Mark last week where Jesus proclaims, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Jesus central message is the coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us that the Kingdom is a way of ordering our individual and collective life that is opposed to the Caesars and idols of this world. Let’s take it one piece at a time.
“The time is fulfilled”: Often in Christian life we talk about the “now, but not yet” when we think about the Kingdom. The fullness of the Kingdom isn’t present, and we all know the brokenness of the world around us. However, Jesus is not saying that it is. He is saying that today the time is right for us to start living with the Kingdom’s expectations and its law of love. Now is the time.
“The Kingdom of God has come near”: The Kingdom of God is not about what happens after you die. There is a lot of confusion on this point. Heaven is a different discussion. The Kingdom Jesus is referring to here is a world full to overflowing with justice, soaked in the presence of the living God, rooted in the redeeming love of Christ crucified and risen. The Kingdom is about all about a just world today.
“Repent, and believe in the good news”: Jesus calls us to turn the expectations of the powers of this world around 180°. The repent part is when we turn around to face a different set of ideals in our everyday life. Jesus calls us to a new set of expectations. First, we own our own need to turn from the assumptions and knee-jerk reactions that reign today, and then we call the world, with Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, to join us in the joyful dance of freedom that is our new existence in God’s good news.
It’s simple, but not easy. The book Deuteronomy reminds us that “the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and on your heart for you to observe” and that is good news, for the Kingdom of God is also near us, on our lips and in our hearts to proclaim and live into.