Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The times has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the good news!” – Mark 1:14-15
Last Sunday was Easter. It’s one of the main church going celebrations (Christmas being the other). We don’t just talk about the importance of the resurrection at Easter – it’s a common theme of those under the Christian faith since it is a cornerstone of our faith. Christ died as a sacrifice for the rebellion of the world against God and rose again to conquer death. If you were like me and raised in a Christian environment then you heard about this a lot, said some version of the sinner’s prayer (where you say “God forgive me of my sins and I believe in you, etc. etc. etc.), and looked toward heaven as your salvation. Our eyes are suddenly turned towards heaven and eternity.
But what about the here and now?
What I’ve been reflecting on during this Lent and Easter season is what does it mean that Jesus ushered his kingdom into the here and now. The beginning of the gospel of Mark illustrates this with the repeated phrase of the “Kingdom of God is at hand” or the “Kingdom of God has come.” What does that mean for us in the day to day living?
During Easter we proclaim the power Christ has over death. But I feel the tension of proclaiming that truth when I still death all around me. People dying, fighting in wars, losing loved ones to violence, fear, brutality, and abuse. When we see injustice still happening in our world, when we see neighbors hating neighbors, when we see fighting and terror and fear running rampant in our world – we wonder what good God wants to bring for us in the here and now.
What does it mean that the time has come and the Kingdom of God is at hand? What does it mean for us in the here and now?
I hope it means that Jesus wants to usher in hope, reconciliation, and restoration in our lives at this very moment – not just give us eternal life in heaven. If our salvation is only focused on getting into heaven then we feed into the highly individualized American version of Christianity where it’s all about me. But a faith that wants to love a community is more than just saving souls for the heaven, it’s bring hope to people here on earth.
I think of this on Easter – the resurrection is God’s power over death. That means it’s just as hope in heaven is just as important as bringing hope in on earth. It’s just hope for a better life once we die, but that God ushers in hope into our lives at this very moment. If God is powerful enough to overcome death then he can overcome anything. He can bring things that are dead back to life – he can bring freedom from bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners.
When we live in Christ’s resurrection – we live in a hope that Christ wants to give us hope in the lives we live. We would proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. We would see comfort to the morning, praise in place of despair – and beauty instead of ashes.