Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “ Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (ESV)
I don’t know about you, but the more I fall in love with Jesus and our Abba and the Holy Spirit in their oneness of other-centered love…I want to DO something. The more accepted and included and assured I am in my mind the more my heart cries out to bring the same revelation to others. The more I see the goodness and joy and peace of God the more I want to see lives changed to live in His peace. The more I see the power of His glory to change any heart in an instant, the more I want to see the world changed in an instant. I don’t know about you but I really want to see an independence day for all of creation. I look around and see the darkness and wonder how we might make it go away. Do you do the same thing? Do you also feel disappointed when you don’t see a change? Do you ponder the “what have I not done to make this work” questions that inevitably falls into the wake of striving to “bring the Kingdom to Earth.” Maybe it is just me but I think not.
I don’t want to shock you but I think that “disappointment” is much like what the disciples were expressing in their question (paraphrased) “well Jesus you’ve done all this stuff and you died and all and now you are going to heaven but what about changing the planet? Are you going to do that or not?” That same thinking still permeates our own minds. It is the same thinking that actually got Jesus killed.
The Jews expected a messiah that would reinstate Israel as a Kingdom on Earth (the heavenly one in their minds) and in the process getting rid of everyone and everything that was opposed to Israel and what they stood for. Instead Jesus died. Instead of taking on the Romans and setting Israel free from oppression Jesus hung out with the outcasts and talked about a Kingdom of Heaven that wasn’t like the concept that was in the minds of the Israelites. No, Jesus talked about turning the other cheek and helping Roman solders and accepting everyone and not judging and forgiving even their enemies. No, Jesus was not at all like the Messiah they wanted. He quickly became the enemy of their religious system. He said He was taking down the temple and getting rid of their institution. Wow! They really didn’t like what they heard.
Could it be possible that the fallen way of thinking the Israelites embraced is still present in us? Could it be that the “darkness” and our “blindness” is still an issue? Maybe we are still seeking and independence day like Israel was 2000 years after the independence day of all independence days. Just maybe.
If you follow the history of doctrines and traditions and concepts and “fundamentals” in the Christian expression, you can see the thread of “disappointment” everywhere. We have been just like the disciples standing there looking at Jesus who has finished everything and pointed our accusing fingers declaring “when are you really going to be a messiah.” You might think I am too harsh but think about all the stuff we have done, horrible stuff, to “further the Kingdom” that Jesus had already established on Earth. He actually says this:
Luke 17:20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (ESV)
Jesus also told many parables about the Kingdom. In each parable He makes it very clear that the Kingdom and the mystery of the Kingdom and the operation of the Kingdom is something that cannot be stopped. He said it is the leaven in the dough that is already working. It is the seeds in the soil that will sprout and grow without our help. It is the seeds spread on all kinds of soil (the world) that will grow and do its thing. This seed even feeds the devil (I didn’t say it Jesus did). The tiniest mustard seed will become a ginormous tree. In this Kingdom of God there will be weeds growing alongside wheat and all kinds of stuff in the net with the fish. There is a harvest someday but even that harvest is independent and outside of and in spite of our effort. The mystery of the Kingdom is preserved and hidden like in fields. It is revealed in death, specifically the death of Jesus. The Kingdom has always been with us and is being revealed in us and all the world with our without our effort. Still we want to DO something.
I’ll be honest right now and say I “struggle” with this part. I want to “Todd White” the whole world and “John G. Lake” entire cities and “Smith Wigglesworth” a whole nation. I want to walk in MY power and MY gifting to see people get out of wheelchairs everywhere. I want to bring MY anointing and MY mind of Christ into all the world and eliminate poverty and hunger. I want to blast the planet with MY Holy Spirit juice so that human trafficking and prostitution is obliterated. Guess what…that isn’t it. It isn’t about MY “doing.” If it were, then in 2000 years, wouldn’t this world be our version of utopia?
Possibly our version of utopia is rooted in our fallen thinking. I do want a better place and that of course is the right thing to desire. Still our effort and our design and our disappointment that follows our failures has produced so much bad theology and doctrine and a long list of horrific atrocities of our own making. The Kingdom of God is within us.
Maybe, just maybe, when the writer of Hebrews said we should strive to enter His rest, he knew what he was talking about. Maybe Jesus was serious when He said the Kingdom was advancing without our help. Maybe Jesus’ answer to the disciples is the same answer we should embrace today.
Jesus tells the disciples that their question is outside their authority. I think he is deliberately reminding them that God is in charge and he is already working it out just not how we think it should go.
Acts 1:7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority (ESV)
So our part now and today and here is to reveal the Kingdom in us. Our rightness with the Father and joy in the family and peace in Jesus should be our daily expression. The Holy Spirit power is to remind us of what has been done. She fills us with the certainty of our acceptance. She illuminates the father through the eyes of the son. She anoints Jesus within us to continue his ministry of the Kingdom. We spread the good news that we are included and reconciled. We are in the Kingdom now and the darkness cannot overcome the light. The light of life of Jesus is illuminating the goodness of our Father and the assurance of our adoption. We are His kids.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So on this Independence Day I suggest we all embrace our Kingdom Day. If we have the overwhelming urge to “do something” we should know that urge is God Himself in us advancing the Kingdom. Our doing should be our participation with Jesus. He did not make us to be “independent” creatures but completely dependent children. Our walk in the Kingdom is a walk in our family. We should be living from peace and from joy and from our assurance as His children…accepted, love, embraced, adored, beloved and empowered. Empowered for what? To know the Father as the Son. To bring Jesus into every situation. To step out in faith that God’s plan is on track and His Kingdom is advancing and He is at work in every person and every situation no matter what our “fallen thinker” may perceive. The Jews missed Him. The disciples were still asking the wrong question. We have entire denominations declaring the end of the world and the annihilation of billions of people as “the” answer to the disciples question. Come on…really?!?! “Jesus in us” is the solution. “Christ in us the hope of glory” is the answer to “the Kingdom come and His will be done.” We are on “Earth and in Heaven.”
OK, lots of “diatribe” so I want to leave you encouraged. We are His children. If you are like me, your desire to “help” the world and “help” God is so powerful and compelling at times, you jump right in the middle of something that will not work (your effort) if He does nothing (Jesus in His anointing). You pray for someone or declare something or break off something… you step out in faith because you are compelled to do so. Here is my encouragement. Don’t stop and don’t let disappointment change your mind and make you numb to the compassion that is welling up inside you. That is Him in you, the Kingdom in you, the hope of glory trying to get out of you. Realize however that Jesus is within the one in front of you too. “When one died all died.” They are a new creation. They have the mind of Christ. They are included in the family of God. They are sons and daughters. They may not know it. They may actually reject it. Their circumstance tells them (and do does your fallen thinker) that Jesus is not there. Still the Kingdom is advancing. His will is being done. You are there as a witness. Jesus will not leave you for forsake you. He is working in whatever it is you are encountering. It may be a radical miracle or a much needed hug. Trust in Him.
Enjoy your Kingdom Day on this Independence Day. Rest in Him. His peace is like no other.