“A stand can be made against invasion by an army; no stand can be made against invasion by an idea.”
John the Baptist and Jesus both began their ministry by saying “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” The effect of those words is the most remarkable example of Victor Hugo’s statement. At various times and places in history it has “turned the world upside down”, even in the face of cruel and bloody attempts to stop it.
If that announcement is not having the same effect today, could it be that we misunderstand it, misinterpret it, or fail to see that it as the answer to the longing of every human heart? The unrest that we see in people around the world today, is a longing for peace, for love, a longing to be understood, a longing for fellowship. That is what the kingdom of God promises to all people, everywhere.
To say that the kingdom of God is at hand does not mean that it is just around the corner, it will appear very soon. It means that it is right here, right now, within our reach.
The wonderful thing about the gospel message is that anyone can enter into this kingdom; all one needs to do is repent. That means that we must acknowledge that up until now we have been living in active rebellion against God and the conflicts we have with other people are a result of this rebellion. When we can bring ourselves to confess our rebellion (the Bible calls it sin) and ask God to forgive us and to help us live differently, we see the world, and the people around us, with different eyes. We have entered the kingdom.
Jesus is the only head of this kingdom and it is known by the love, joy and peace of its citizens. They do nothing to seek conflict with others. Yet by its very existence this kingdom is a threat to the kingdom of darkness, ruled by Satan. Each kingdom is engaged in trying to undermine the other kingdom. The kingdom of God does this by using only peaceful weapons: showing humility, love, kindness and compassion to all. The kingdom of Satan fights back with pride, counterfeit religion, hatred and persecution.
Through centuries of history many thousand Christians have died a martyr’s death. That has never stifled the power of the message of the kingdom. In fact, Jesus tells us that persecution is evidence of the effectiveness of the message of the kingdom.
What has weakened the message of the kingdom in our day is that too many who call themselves Christians have compromised the message. Some have thought that political action was the way to further the kingdom of God. That always leads to compromise and collaboration with the kingdom of darkness. Others have made a virtue of being quiet about the kingdom message, thinking it was enough to lead a humble and peaceable Christian life and thus avoid opposition. That may seem to work for a time, but is it really a safe way to live?
Let’s just humbly and unapologetically proclaim to the people of today’s world: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is within your reach”.