Most Christians feel confident that when they die, they will then enter Heaven and find joy everlasting. This is, after all, what they believe they have been promised in Scripture. What they do between now and then is of little consequence to the final result. Once they accept Jesus into their hearts, they are then guaranteed a peaceful and secure eternity. Nothing they do – or don’t do for that matter – can disqualify them from their promised rest. I don’t know about you, but this seems like a strange plan for a God who desires nothing more than to be in relationship with us. There is an inconsistency in thinking we could say a prayer once and gain His eternal favor even though we ignore Him with the rest of our lives. How do we reconcile these things?
I believe the tension here is caused by a misunderstanding of what it means to live in the Kingdom of God. Our common approach to understanding what this means comes from our belief that we are bodies with a soul. The truth is, however, that we are a soul with a body. The difference may seem subtle, but in reality it is not. If we are a body with a soul, the implication is that our body exists without a soul. However, we know from Scripture that our bodies are nothing but dust until God breathes His life into us (Genesis 2:7). Our soul is the life that God imparted to our lifeless bodies. The body is simply a physical manifestation necessary to exist in a material world. At our core, we are spirit. Our body is temporary, but our spirit is eternal. Since the Kingdom of God is eternal, we experience it and live in it in a spiritual way. The Kingdom of God is all around us at this very moment.
Since we are surrounded by God’s Kingdom, the way we live in it is to obey Him and act in ways that are consistent with the manner in which He would act. When we move in concert with His will, we experience the wonder of the Kingdom and demonstrate it to those around us. The most exciting part of all of this is that we can experience the Kingdom right where we are today; we need not simply look forward to experiencing it sometime in the future. Just as Jesus said in Matthew 12:28, the Kingdom of God is upon us; we can enter now with no waiting! The implications of this are enormous! As followers of Jesus, we are living in the Kingdom of God each moment that we walk consistently with Him. Our joy is complete as we weave and dance with our Creator King. Life in all of its abundance is available to us this very hour, yet we squander the wonder and beauty of the moment looking forward to a someday in the distance.
If we see God’s Kingdom as something we achieve only by our death then we will waste the physical life that God has created for us to live. We will miss the beauty of the moments, the awe of His created world, and the wonder of His power. The Kingdom of God is all around you, waiting for you to take part and play your role. Pray that God would open your eyes to what is already here. Let us pray with Jesus that God’s Kingdom would indeed come to earth, just as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:9-13). We carry the standard of the Kingdom into every battle we face. Every choice for God advances His light into another dark place. Every stand against temptation is another victory for our King. God longs for us to dance with Him in His Kingdom. We need not wait. The Kingdom of God is upon us.