Monday, July 5, 2010

What's On Your Doorstep?

What’s on your doorstep? Did you go outside this morning to see if there was something new outside your door?

The seventy disciples Jesus sent out in pairs were to tell those they were sent to that ‘God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep!’ Did these people the disciples visited know what that meant for them? Did the disciples understand what Jesus meant?

What does it mean to us that ‘God’s kingdom is on our doorstep?’ Do we understand what that means any better than the people in the countries of Judea and Samaria? It’s hard for us to imagine what a kingdom is since we don’t live in a country someone in power rules. Jesus knew what it was and so did the people where he lived and taught.

The kingdom where they lived wasn’t so great. Someone always wanted more of their income to support the infrastructure and, maybe, line their own pockets. Men were conscripted into military service fighting for something they didn’t believe in against people they had no beef against.

Wait a minute! That could almost be us today. Someone always wants some more of our income to support the programs implemented by those we’ve elected into office. Sometimes we wonder if some of it isn’t going into their bank accounts.

Is God’s kingdom on our doorsteps? If it was would we know what it was? What is God’s kingdom?

Don’t feel bad if you don’t have an answer. Theologians have been debating that very statement for longer than you and I have been around.

The people of Jesus’ time were waiting for a savior, someone who would finally give them some respite from their oppressors. Jesus said that the kingdom of God was right on their doorsteps but things didn’t seem any different to them. Not much was changing. The Romans were still there, they still had to work very hard to scrape up enough money to support their families. After Jesus was crucified and resurrected was the world any different than before. It didn’t look or feel any different.

If God’s kingdom is here on our doorstep have any of you seen any difference? It doesn’t seem any different to me. There is still the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and Korea, and the Sudan. People are still without work and some aren’t able to provide shelter or food for their families. The oil spill still isn’t cleaned up. People are still homeless. So what’s it mean that God’s kingdom is here today?

Does the fact that God’s kingdom is here today, right in our midst, make any difference to us? If we believe that God’s kingdom is here now why do we believe? If we don’t believe that God’s kingdom is here now why not?

Jesus said God’s kingdom arrived because he was here. Paul said that God’s kingdom was here because of God’s gift to the world in Jesus the Christ. What does it take for us to know and believe?

I think that in order for us to know the kingdom of God is right here, right now, we need faith. We must believe in God. We must believe in Jesus the Christ as God’s Son, the Savior of the world. We must believe that God sent us his Spirit to be our Advocate and our Interpreter. We must believe.

Believing in God requires faith. And faith comes from God. So what do we do if our faith is weak? Can we make our faith stronger by ourselves?

Friends, there is nothing we can accomplish on our own. But through Jesus as our intermediary we can do anything. Our faith can be made stronger when Jesus intercedes for us before the Father. God’s kingdom is on our doorstep.

If we go looking for it we might miss it but if we listen to Paul’s words and follow his advice, then we might catch a glimpse of God’s kingdom here on Earth.

1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law… 4-5Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
6Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.

God’s kingdom is on our doorstep. But we might not be able to see it because we’re too focused on our own needs and wants. Naaman didn’t want to do what Elisha told him to do because it was too simple, not elaborate enough for him. He expected a show.

God’s kingdom is on our doorstep. In order to truly experience it we must be willing to share God’s love and peace with everyone, the illegals, the foreigners, people who aren’t like us at all, and those we can hardly stand to be around. We must be willing to stoop down and help those who aren’t able to help themselves. Even when we believe they should be able to.

Friends, God’s kingdom is on our doorstep. We have been sent to minister to the world and we are to begin right here in Walnut, Iowa. By caring for those God sends to us and trusting in his providence for us and them we will see the kingdom of God on our doorstep.

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