Wednesday, January 14, 2015

16 Months of Experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

Leslie/Todd:  So much for keeping this blog current!  It's been a remarkable 16 months - super typhoons, new partners, new office, and around the world in 80 days a few times over.  Our 2014 theme was "Go. Extend the Kingdom." and that we have tried to do by remaining sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading.  As we have tried to extend the kingdom, we have experienced a lot of it as well.

The word "kingdom" is used a lot by followers of Christ.  We've worked with our volunteers and partners and friends to try to come up with a decent definition, and here's where we currently are...

The kingdom is a time and place where Jesus reigns, and as a result...
  • We honor and worship Him.
  • We live with sufficiency and dignity and in right relationship with each other and creation.
  • We have access to power to overcome forces of evil.
  • We experience the truly abundant life.
  • We joyfully extend this kingdom to others.
Perhaps when Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven coming to earth, He had in mind something like this.

These are unsettling days in our world.  Children are being used as suicide bombers, new undetectable bombs pose a risk to airplane travel, and the person you stand next to on the subway could have just returned from training for some special mission.  Yet in the midst of these days, I can honestly say we have been experiencing aspects of the kingdom of heaven on earth.

There are at least three dimensions to experiencing the kingdom of heaven on earth - the material, social, and spiritual.

For virtually all of us in North America, we experience the material aspects of the kingdom of heaven on earth every day.  We read about heavenly mansions - if Jesus were to walk in to our apartments or homes, He would likely see them as such.  We read about heavenly banquets - if Jesus were to open our refrigerators, He would likely see them as such.  We have access to healthcare that allows us to recover from ailments that have killed people for centuries.  We have much to thank God for in allowing us to experience the material aspect of the kingdom of heaven and to so easily be able to extend it to others.

Our material wealth sometimes leads to social and spiritual poverty - we don't think we need each other or God.  It doesn't have to be that way.  We have a wonderful global discipling community of PEER Servants volunteers and we are so blessed by the fellowship we have with each other across many lines - socioeconomic, racial, national, ethnic, denominational, age, and much, much more.  We also have God's Word, His Spirit, and constant reminders from God's provision and watching God's people of what an amazing God we have, and we cannot help but worship Him.

So these have been 16 months of tremendous blessing amidst huge challenges and at times difficult circumstances.  One of the many lessons we have learned from our brothers and sisters around the world is that one can still experience the kingdom of heaven on earth despite difficult circumstances.  The much bigger threat to experiencing such a blessed life is when we put our will and our interests first, before God's will and interests.

May God enable each of us to seek His kingdom first and as a result to experience life as He envisioned it for us and for others to whom we can extend that kingdom.

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