God, teach me about your kingdom. Show me my own place in it.
When we read of Jesus’ ascension, we often quickly turn to ponder his return. When will he come back? As exciting as that question is, I believe that there is an even more profound question that needs to be answered first. It is one that is absolutely fundamental to the understanding of our faith; it is a question that I don’t think I have ever heard anyone ask. Why did Jesus leave in the first place?
The answer can be found in Jesus’ teachings and conversations during his last days. Before his death, Jesus commissioned his disciples to preach the gospel of the kingdom to the ends of the earth, and he taught them about the kingdom of God.
Jesus spoke passionately about the kingdom of God – the revolutionary kingdom in which God’s rule defines how we live and act. Jesus gave us a critical assignment to build this kingdom. He taught his disciples about it, and he empowered them—and us—with the Holy Spirit.
Why did Jesus leave? In his own words, Jesus said, “I tell you that I am doing what is best for you. That is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave” (John 16.7a). Jesus left us a mission to accomplish. He said he would return when our assignment was finished. The disciples, on fire for this kingdom-building mission, preached and taught Jesus’ kingdom message, and they took the Roman Empire by storm. Today, twenty centuries later, the job Jesus gave us to do is not yet completed.
Why do you think Jesus left instead of simply bringing history to a close right then and there? What does the kingdom of God mean to you? How do you live out Jesus’ mission?
As you consider what the kingdom of God means to you, what do you see as your place on the front lines of the kingdom? Ask God to help you discover your role in building the kingdom in the 21st century and act on it.
Lord, give me the passion for kingdom building that caused your disciples to change the world. Help me to order my life to be completely obedient to the mission you gave to your followers.