The thought of the end times coming during our life time is not something that anyone likes to think about. If you consider the descriptions of that event in the scriptures it is no wonder we avoid the concept. Yet we do believe that one day Christ will return with his entire heavenly host to restore this world to its original condition. God and his creation will be as it was originally intended; including us walking and talking with God daily.
The early church expected Christ to return within their life time and they longed for his coming. However, as months turned into years and years into decades and decades into centuries the church came to realize that the end of the world was not imminent but some day it is going to happen. As the years passed by, we also came to focus on another reality – Christ does now reigns triumphant in a place we desire to be and one we long for.
In the meantime we are here on this earth are dealing with other realities. One reality is that Christ did come to establish a kingdom here on earth. Another reality is that we live in a world that is broken and it is one we seem to belong to more than that kingdom Jesus established.
In one sense the kingdom that Jesus established on earth is very much like the matrix depicted in the movie of the same name. Until Christ came the world was groaning under the weight of sin. The kingdom of the world is an illusion of a good place for us to embrace. This kingdom offers us beauty, affirmation, companionship, advancement, satisfaction for every one of our senses. What it offers us is a false sense of belonging and distracts us from discovering the kingdom of God. Christ constantly preached about the kingdom of God that he came to establish. It is the one we must seek because it is in that kingdom where we discover the reality of God and the truth that Jesus died to restore our glory.
This kingdom Christ established on earth is one seen and lived in by believers; individuals whose eyes have been enlightened by the Spirit. Those who dwell in this kingdom know that what the world offers us is full of deceptions. It promises us joy, peace, love, affirmation, beauty but it is all an illusion. Sin has tainted the world we live in so we cannot see it for what it is, nor can we see the kingdom where Christ calls us to live.
Paul prayed for our innermost vision to be enlightened so we could know the reality of who we are and where we live. Those words of Paul bring to mind a scene in “The Shack,” a story about an encounter with God. In one scene, Jesus and the main character Max are lying on a dock as evening is falling. Jesus asks Max if he can touch his eyes. His desire is for Max to see the starry hosts as God sees them. Yes you guessed it, what Max experiences is that the galaxies are more vibrant, more luminous than our eyes can discern. Max is blown away by everything he experiences with the veil which covers the earth lifted by Jesus.
Yet we know the beauty of sunrises, sunsets, fall colors, the colors of birds, fish, reptiles, animals and insects or the colors of crops growing in a field. If our eyes dimmed by sin see all this beauty how much more of God’s glory is on display in the kingdom established by Christ. We would see so much more of God’s glory in all creation if only we could discover this kingdom of God in our midst.
So what do we do about this age to come when Christ shall come again? Like the early church we should long for it but in the meantime we do need to start seeking and longing for the life Christ promised us on this earth. We need to remember Christ came to establish a place where we who believe could see his power and glory at work each and every day.
There is a kingdom beyond the turmoil surrounding us where the presence of God comforts us. There is a kingdom where evil cannot destroy us or our peace. There is a kingdom where those broken and held in bondage by addictions are set free by the power of God There is a kingdom where the lonely are embraced by a loving God. There is a kingdom where we as sons and daughters are daily in the arms of our God. That kingdom has been established by Christ and it is ours if we seek it.