God's kingdom is at hand

The kingdom of heaven is at hand!

Matth. 13.24-52; Matth. 21.28-32; Matth. 25.31-46
Mark. 4.26-32; Luk. 13: 18-21; Joh. 3,1-21

The modern Christian message often sounds like: '' Be active, otherwise the kingdom of heaven will not come! '' But the message that Jesus brings sounds different: "Renew yourselves, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Matt. 3: 2; 4, 17; 10: 7) "... is in the midst of you!" '(Luk. 17: 20-21)

Of course God wants us to be available to him and to do what he shows us to do: but not to create his kingdom, but to make it visible to those who are open to it. It would be a pitiful God who would need our help to establish his rule. The Bible depicts God differently: He has all power and what we doing is insignificant compared to what He creates (Job 38-41; Psalm 2; Psalm 46; Luk. 17,10; Luk. 19,40; Matth. 3,9). God's power sustains us, not the other way around!

What is the message from Jesus?

(more e.g. in the Sermon on the Mount, Matt. 5-7)
  • The kingdom of God is at hand! Everything else is subordinate to this fact! Do not resist people; instead, focus all your energy on what is right before God! Do not worry about your daily needs: you cannot do anything against his will, and he will give you everything you need in abundance anyway.
  • Therefore, make it the first priority in your life to seek to be part of His kingdom: make sure that He really rules your life; free yourself from everything that prevents you from achieving this! Because here is the unique opportunity: God is near, He gives when we ask, He listens when we call on Him, He fills our hearts and gives us peace.
  • Be happy, you who suffer! God's comfort is available!
    Be happy, you who long for a world where justice reigns! You will be satisfied!
  • Do not act to get approval from people! If you want to live for God's kingdom, all that counts is his Recognition!
  • Do not judge other people! For God judges you according to how you judge others. `` Shouldn't you have had as much mercy as I did? '' (Matt. 18: 21-35). Your own words will excuse or condemn you (Luke 19:22). You will have to give an account of everything you have said (Matt. 12: 36-37).
  • People say: 'Be nice to each other', but in their hearts they think, 'but everything is within its limits ...'. But you are to be like your heavenly Father, treating good and bad people, friends and enemies, equally: God also gives them his gifts and fulfills their needs.
  • Hearing and talking about my message is not enough, says Jesus. Do what I say and you will have peace, indestructible foundations in a world full of turmoil. If you don't, what you are doing and achieving cannot last.

If we dilute what Jesus says into something we can achieve on our own, then we have not been listening properly, we have made our own gospel. In His day people were shocked and appalled by his message; many thought Jesus was crazy or was going too far. The Pharisees were the good church Christians of their day, respected, with a handy religion, tailored for those who were good enough. But Jesus said, `` If your righteousness is no better than that of the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ''

The kingdom of heaven is not our kingdom where we rule (even his disciples had hoped so, but were corrected by Jesus: Matt. 20: 20-28), where our Successes count and gain recognition, but it is the Kingdom of God where He prevails and His Services set an example.

God can't shine through, though we are successful and make it big: what in reality he did, then appears as our achievement, and people praise it us and forget God. God has become so invisible in our century because mankind has become so powerful, and we are led to the idea that we must take God's place because otherwise nothing decisive will happen. And then we start worrying about the world because the responsibility to play God is beyond our capabilities.

His power is best seen when we at the end with our Latin, and yet something is happening. Then we finally perceive that God must have been at work.

We deceive ourselves when we lower God's standards so far that they come within reach of our human possibilities (John 15: 5). But by taking His Word seriously, we recognize our limits and become transparent to the power of God. On the cross, when Jesus was most powerless and helpless, God's power showed itself at a height that changed the fate of mankind forever.

Commentary by the Apostle Paul

(1. Cor. 1,18.25.27-29):

`` The word of the cross is nonsense for those who are lost; but for us, the saved, it is a source of power from God. ''

`` Even what appears to us to be the stupidity of God is wiser than human beings, and what appears to be God's weakness is superior to human strength. ''

`` God chose what the world sees as uneducated to shame the learned; he chose the weak in the world to shame the strong. And God chose the low and despised by the world, even worthless, in order to devalue what is valid before the world, so that no one can boast before God. ''

What should we do when we measure ourselves by God's sacred standards, when we recognize our failures and compromises?
  • `` Follow me! '' Even in our weaknesses we can be available to God (2 Cor. 12: 9-10), follow his advice (Psalm 25) and pay attention and observe - be witnesses for what He is for to us and to us (Exodus 14:14; Isa. 30: 15-16). We can be careful to find out what we can do with and for him (Eph. 4: 20-5: 2).
  • We can accept God's forgiveness: nothing can separate us from God if we belong to Him (John 10: 27-28). Knowing about His forgiveness, we can forgive others ourselves. Without feeling guilty, we can listen more attentively and act without fear or guilty conscience (Psalm 32: 1-2). We are free to grow and to live holistically - holy - (Isa. 33,24), to be serene in happiness and unhappiness, safe in the hand of God (Luk. 5,17-26; Phil. 4,11-13) .
  • We can accept ourselves and the situation in which we are placed without comparing, showing off, or hiding (1 Cor. 4,3; Psalm 73; Luk. 18,9-14); if it is appropriate, God himself will assign us another place (Luk. 14: 7-14).
  • We can do our best knowing that God has the power to bless what we heartily do, whether it is great or little (1 Sam. 14: 6c; Luk. 12: 47-48; 1 Cor. 4,2; Col. 3, 12-17).
  • We can be grown up in the eyes of men and yet children remain before God. "He gave all those who welcomed him the privilege of becoming children of God," says John of Jesus (John 1:12). Knowing that we are God's beloved children is liberating us of the worries of life: after all, it is the task of looking after the well-being of the children parents. As long as we are children, we always learn new things. Children have an active interest in following their parents. They do not give up their attempts to walk, although they fail many times until they learn to keep their balance. And they keep trying to speak, even if it's far from perfect in the beginning. It takes time to grow up, but just as we grow up by imitating our parents and other role models, so we become perfect by following God and the saints. "Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will certainly not enter it" (Mark 10:15).

`` Who of you, if you wanted to build a tower, wouldn't sit down first and calculate the cost to see if you had enough to finish building?
Otherwise, if he has laid the foundations and cannot finish building, all who see it will mock him and say, 'This person started building and couldn't finish it'.
Likewise, no one can be my disciple who does not renounce everything that he has. '' (Luke 14: 28-33).

'' The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in the field, which a person discovers and covers up again; in his joy he then goes there, sells everything he has and buys the field. '' (Matt. 13:44)

As soon as we have bitten into the bait that Jesus, the fisherman of men (Matt. 4:19), has laid out for us, we hang on its hook and it costs us everything. But although it sometimes seems very hard (Jer. 20: 7-18; Matt. 10: 16-26), we don't need to regret our journey (Joh. 6: 66-68; Rom. 8: 31-39) . Because the coin also has another side ....

Imagine ...

Imagine that you are a bachelor, not very neat, and your friend wants to visit you at home for the first time. 'Oh', do you think, 'what would she think of me if she only knew who I really am'. So you're scared and excited, you make a special effort to clean up, hide all the dirty clothes, and hope she doesn't spot the dust in the corners.

But now your girlfriend really does love you; that draws her attention, and of course she notices everything. With a smile she lets you know that she half expected this, but she says she didn't come to spoil my mood, but to enjoy the time with me. You're not sure if that's really true, but at least you feel less tense.

The next time you visit her apartment and find everything carefully arranged. You enjoy the atmosphere but feel that you hardly fit in with your primitive lifestyle.

After a series of mutual visits, you get caught unprepared: your girlfriend unexpectedly comes by and sees the mess in which you have actually lived all this time. You are very ashamed - but to your surprise she says to you: 'Oh, how uncomfortable it must be for you; why don't we clean up together? ''

You think to yourself, 'She has no idea, I've been indifferent to this mess for a long time', but you tell your friend, yes, that is a good idea. So you wash the dishes while she sweeps the floor and dusts the furniture, and while you do that, chat to her about the last movie you saw.

You later find that it is much nicer to listen to the music when everything is neat, and when she goes home you find that it was a really great day. Gradually you start to gain confidence that your girlfriend really is you likes and not just your conversational fluency and your good manners, and that you don't have to hide anything from her.

And one day you hear yourself say to her, `` Look, I know that you like me and that I mean something to you. You are the only person I can really trust. You don't come to terms with my shortcomings, but you have such a loving way of helping me grow beyond them. I don't know how to say it, but I really love you and I would love to share my whole life with you. ''

To us she replied with tears in her eyes, `` Oh, this is the day I've been waiting for for a long time. I love you so much ... '' and their hearts meet, and everything is different from before. A new life starts. - -

This is the kingdom of heaven seen from the inside - being a Christian is a love relationship between God and us. In the parable we are the bachelor, God is the friend.

I wrote this story to give courage that even a trust in God that was initially characterized by uncertainty and skepticism - and therefore only weakly developed - can deepen by making real experiences in dealing with him.

We all know that God loves us. But He doesn't want it to be a one-sided thing. God lives and He wants to be loved as well. We may be shy of Him because of the majesty of God and our undignified worldly lifestyle, and so we keep our distance. And when we come to meet Him, we put on our best selves and suppress the dark side of us because we know we should be holy in His presence.

But it is on us interested, not in the facade that we present to Him, and with loving care and empathetic directness He shows us that He knows our confused life, and He gives us incentive, courage and help for change.

Yes, He wants us to live holy, and in His presence we feel completely exposed. But He's so loving that we're starting to change. The indifference born of failure and despair gives way to a desire for renewal, and, gradually or suddenly, we find that we want to belong to Him, that He has won our hearts.

This is the good news that Jesus shares when He preaches:
`` Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand '' (Matt. 4:17).
`` I tell you, there is joy among the angels of God over a sinner who repents '' (Luke 15:10).

And everything is different than before. A new life starts.
`` Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed, look! - New things have come about. '' (2 Cor. 5:17).

Arnold Neumaier

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my home page (http://www.mat.univie.ac.at/~neum) Arnold Neumaier ([email protected])