Luke 17:20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Some translations read “within you” instead of “in your midst” but perhaps both are true. I would suggest to you that, like being equal to God, the Kingdom of God cannot be grasped.

As I have previously written, a kingdom is everything under a kings rule. All the land and inhabitants must obey the kings rules and are subject to the kings judgment.  In the beginning, before we took the fruit, we did not think of ourselves as being God’s equals. It was the moment  the temptation began in our hearts that we started to believe that equality with God was something we could obtain and we tried to grab that equality when we took a bite.  It was in that original state that we were in the domain of the His Kingdom because God dwelt with us.  Once we decided to partake of the fruit we were exiled from His very near presence and thus a gap was created between us and The Kingdom.

Now, although the gap existed, people were made in the image of God so carrying around God’s image has kept us connected with God’s Kingdom. So even if we are to rebel against God we would still be in His domain and remain subject to His authority and judgment . It is fortunate that we have a God who is so good, loving, and forgiving, that all we need to do is proclaim that Jesus is Lord and believe that He has conquered death and we shall have life.

Today, The Kingdom is within us because we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. But Jesus at the time of saying this was speaking to people that had not yet received the gift of the Holy Spirit. So, “the Kingdom of God is in your midst” translation makes a lot of sense.  Jesus, the King of kings and King of the Kingdom was indeed right there with them. He was literally in their midst. The Kingdom of God is not a place you can find on the map because it is spread out across and overlaps all lands so any place Jesus would have stepped would literally be the Kingdom of God.  We have been commissioned by God to be His ambassadors therefore everywhere we go turns into Kingdom ground because of the authority given to us by the nails in Jesus’ hands. Really absorb this part. When we walk in God’s will, where ever we go becomes territory of the Kingdom of God and thus we walk in authority and out of that Kingdom authority comes Kingdom Power. Power to heal, restore sight, to prophecy, even to raise the dead.  Now there is much more to teach on authority and power, but that’s not the subject at hand.

We should take a moment to think about, how Jesus here is telling us that the coming of God’s Kingdom cannot be observed. It is not something that we can watch as it approaches.  We cannot see it get closer with our eyes and comprehend its nearing with our mind yet Jesus tells us to pray for it’s coming in Matthew 6:10. In that verse Jesus connects God’s Kingdom with His Will and I would suggest that this connection is significant. Believers bring the kingdom with them as they remain in God’s will and when they do not remain in God’s will they fail to bring the Kingdom. So, let us keep ourselves focused on obeying the commands of Jesus which can be summed up with this: Love God, love people. If we keep this as our focus day in and day out we will not fail in doing our part in the Kingdom coming and interacting with it in our midst.

So, the Kingdom of God is here, it is near, and it is coming. This would be a ludicrous statement if it were not for the understanding that God’s spirit does not exist in the temporal constraints of our physical existence. It is here in the fact that God’s Holy Spirit dwells in us and among us. It is near in the sense that people who are not citizens of the Kingdom are all around us and it is near them as we are near them and find the opportunities to share the Gospel; as well and the commonly held Christian belief that Christ’s return could happen at any moment. And Finally, it is coming because we believe that what we have seen and experienced of The Kingdom of God in this life is only a blurry reflection of the crystal clear fullness that is God dwelling among us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

– Curtis J. Perea

It’s funny to me how we sometimes miss the connection between the Kingdom of God and the Garden of Eden. In the beginning of the Book, Adam and Eve were living in a very special relationship with God. They walked in the Garden with Him. I don’t know how long of a time was spent in the Garden before they were expelled, but really it doesn’t matter. The main point behind the story of the fall of man is the fact that people said, “God, I got this”.

God never wanted us to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but God loved us, and love shows vulnerability. Therefore, God had to give us the opportunity to trust Him. He made the tree available to us so that we could choose to allow Him to decide what is Good and Evil, thus giving Him our trust. It is significant that God made us naked and said that “it was good”.  It is significant because we say that our nakedness is something to be ashamed of, something that needs to be covered. Eating the fruit and our eyes being opened did not reveal to us that God made us in a shameful state. God already declared it to be good. We ate the fruit and declared it bad. This means that the eating the fruit from Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was in essence us telling God to get off of The Throne of Judgement because it was now our turn to judge what is right and wrong.

I got the quote I put on my senior portrait from a Calvin and Hobbs funny where Calvin was declaring himself dictator of the world. “I alone will choose the good, the evil, and the path to righteousness” shouted Calvin with his wooden sword in the air. I thought it was hilarious! As a child I always loved C&H and had rediscovered them in my senior year. It seemed like a real, “I’m a master of my own destiny” sort of quote, which was right up my ally. As an adult who now believes that Jesus came to be our reconciler, this quote is chilling to me because it speaks to the very heart of the world’s broken state. We have chosen that it is okay to be selfish to an objectively uncertain extent, and this drive for self is what pulls us farther from seeing the Kingdom at hand.

You see, the law came because we thought we knew best. God tried to show us that really, He knows best. The people of Israel asked for a king because they thought they knew what was best. It’s all a repetitive story of mankind believing they know best, while God loves them in their folly.  In comes Jesus, who did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill the law. Jesus is the reconciler who Adam and Eve hoped for at the beginning of the story. The one who would open up the gates and allow us back into the Garden for all who believe that that is what He came to do.

So what am I saying? Should Christians stop buying clothes, become nudists and be called garden dwellers? No! Please don’t do that. I would like to suggest to you today that you, the believer in Christ Jesus, are already back in the Garden. However, you now have a daily, hourly, minutely, opportunity to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and say “thanks God, I got this”; or to keep yourself off of His Judgement seat and trust Him to be the judge of everything.  The Kingdom of God is at hand, and it is coming still. This means we have access to it now and if we stay in it and invite others into it, it will grow.  I’m not talking about inviting people to a Sunday service. You should be doing that anyway. I’m talking about inviting people off of the Judgement seat and back into the Garden.

– Curtis J. Perea