By Jason Bowman
Following Jesus means a commitment to being his disciple. It means a lifelong dedication to learning his teachings and emulating his life. In order to do this, we must come to grips with the heart of his message and ministry. When Jesus first began preaching, he called people to repent and believe the good news that the Kingdom of God was at hand. To be a disciple of Jesus, we must have a meaningful concept of the Kingdom of God.
To begin with, we should not think of the Kingdom of God in terms of geography or architecture. Jesus is not referring to a place or a building. While he does speak of the Kingdom as something a person can enter, this equates to being part of something (like when we say she is “entering the workforce”) as opposed to physically going inside of something.
For Jesus, the Kingdom of God is a way of describing God’s presence, power and plan to put things right in creation. For example, when the disciples go out to heal people, they are to tell them “the Kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9). When Jesus speaks about casting out demons, he explains “if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20). Jesus came to heal body and soul, to bring new life and to cast out demons — these are actions of the Kingdom. These are means of restoring creation to what God intended before the Fall of man brought sin, suffering and death to the world.
Sometimes Jesus speaks of the Kingdom in terms of the future. This refers to the time when all things are set right so that all of God’s creation is finally restored. It is a time when there will be no more tears, sickness, mourning or death (Revelation 21:3-4). That is God’s ultimate plan. And when we answer the call of Jesus to be his disciple, we sign up for being agents of that mission. God wants to be present through us in order to bring his power to bear on a fallen world. As disciples of Jesus, we turn from ways of darkness and destruction so that we can be instruments of restoration, healing and peace. It means believing so deeply in God’s power to bring change for good, we are willing to give ourselves to this purpose every day even when it costs us something.
Consider your family and other relationships you have; consider your job and the community you live in and ask yourself: as a disciple of Jesus, how am I an agent of the Kingdom of God by being an instrument of restoration, healing and peace and how am I an agent of this fallen world by being an instrument of darkness and destruction?