This Christmas, my family is going to take the long drive from Chicago to my grandparents’ house in Nebraska. My daughter is young enough that the sounds coming from her mouth in the car are (most of the time) sweet baby babbles. However, I’m not looking forward to the day when those sweet baby babbles are replaced with the never ending loop of that dreaded question, “Are we therrrrre yet?!”
“Are we there yet?” is a dreaded question by any parent, but it is actually a really good question about the Kingdom of God that Jesus has inaugurated.
The word “Kingdom” is used 163 times throughout the New Testament, and it is used in the Gospels a total of 123 times. It’s easy to say that the concept of “Kingdom” is kind of a big deal to Jesus and the authors of the New Testament. Every time “Kingdom” is mentioned in the New Testament, the dominate, probing question is “Are we there yet?”
The short answer to this question is yes, but not yet.
When Jesus says “Kingdom,” He means wherever the present and/or future redeemed people of God, in community, are living with Him as their King. This community extends to everyone who acknowledges, submits, and lives according to Jesus as Lord of their life. Life in the Kingdom will not always be easy in the fallen world, but when the members of the Kingdom allow Jesus to rule their lives, they receive a present everlasting life that stretches into all of eternity.
Let me go back to my road trip to Nebraska to explain. There’s nothing like my grandparents’ home on Christmas. My grandma has eight Christmas trees all decked out. There’s Christmas bingo, and don’t even get me started on how delicious Christmas dinner is. When I walk in the door at grandma’s house, I feel at home. But the feeling of home for Christmas and the reality of my destination starts for me when I cross the state line from Iowa into Nebraska.
In the same way, the Kingdom of God is here and present, but we have only crossed the state line. Jesus is coming a second time to fully inaugurate the Kingdom with all its beauty, but in the meantime, we get to live in the reality that we are on our way home, and nothing can keep us from that destination.