Many people do not understand that this was Jesus’ message, his plan, his good news. Even people who are actively involved in church life were taught to pray, “Beam me up.”
But Jesus never told anybody to pray, “Get me out of here so I can go up there.” He said we were to ask God to establish his Kingdom where we are.
Jesus’ gospel is not about something that might happen sometime in the future. It has already begun. In him. In hiddenness. In sacrificial love. Right in the midst of the kingdoms that oppose it.
You may wonder, If the Kingdom has come in Jesus, why is the earth still a mess? Why are pain and suffering still with us? And the answer—which took the early church decades to come to grips with—is that other “kingdoms” still remain. Other wills that are opposed to God’s will are still present. Thank God, because one of those stubborn wills is mine. One day all opposition will end. But it endures now because God chooses to act not with coercive power but in suffering love.
When Jesus was born, Rome had a gospel. An old Roman inscription read, “The birthday of the god [referring to Caesar Augustus] was the beginning for the world of the glad tidings [Good News, gospel] that have come to men through him.”
The gospel of Jesus is a claim that Rome’s “good news”—a “good news” purchased by violence and fear—is fake news.
No merely human kingdom can redeem and transform the earth. Only King Jesus can do that.
His ultimate success is certain. And if you want, you can be a part of his Kingdom.
Right here. Right now.
John Ortberg, Eternity Is Now in Session: A Radical Rediscovery of What Jesus Really Taught about Salvation, Eternity, and Getting to the Good Place (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2018).
I have just completed a series of lessons on the theme of Eternity Is Now In Session. They are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. For a medium-sized church, lesson subscriptions are only $10 per teacher per year.