When I was young we’d play a game like hide and seek, but we played it in the dark. We usually played it inside with the lights turned out. People would hide. The person who was “it” would give them time, and then seek them out. We didn’t run to base, we just hoped our hiding place would be good enough so we wouldn’t be caught. (Running in the house in the dark didn’t seem like a good idea, even for ten year olds!) The person who was it would shine a spotlight (flashlight) on the space where they thought someone was hiding. If they found someone, they would say “Spot spot on <insert name here>.”
A lot of games include people looking for things or for people. In life people are always searching for other, less concrete things: love, success, happiness. A lot of times they think they’ve found success, because they have a new job that gives them lots of money, only later to be miserable in their job. When it comes to our relationship with God, we see that same sense of searching, that same desire to achieve. Our goal appears to be to get into the Kingdom of God. The Pharisees, perhaps out of curiosity as to what Jesus would teach or perhaps with a real desire to learn, asked Jesus about the Kingdom of God. “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is in your midst.’” (Luke 17:20-21)
This whole passage is interesting because Jesus separates a concept that we see as one: The Kingdom of God and the Day of the Lord. Here, though, Jesus focused on the Kingdom of God. The Pharisees, and probably most Christian, including me when I forget, equated the Kingdom of God with sometime in the future when God will destroy all the evildoers and set up shop here on earth while all His followers will enjoy peace, harmony, and an eternity with God. The Pharisees asked Jesus when it was coming to see if He would give them the same signs that they already believed in or if He would give them different signs of that time. The response of Jesus is shocking. The impact has dulled over the years because we’ve read it, but we still don’t act like we believe it most of the time. The kingdom of God is here. It is now. It is within you. That answer doesn’t seem to satisfy most of us. We want the spectacle of the Returning King, we want the all-out war against evil to be over, we want the Kingdom of God to be a reward for faithful service.
I think Jesus is reminding the Pharisees, and us as well, that the Kingdom of God is not so much a place or a time as it is your relationship with God. If you’re living in a relationship with God, then you are living in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God has an interesting immigration policy: citizenship is open to all people, but citizenship is reserved for those who have a relationship with God. That means that we have the responsibility of helping other people develop a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In a world that has become divided and mean, we are called to show love and grace. We are called to live and proclaim the grace and mercy of God to all people, even those who would be our enemies. Think about how you would behave if you were in the presence of a King, a monarch, or even the President. Realize that if you are in a relationship with God, then you walk daily in the presence of one far greater than any of those.
Lord, remind me each day that I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Remind me that the Kingdom of God is here, in my life, always. Let me live as one who has received Your grace and mercy by showing that mercy and grace to everyone I meet. Let my life show the joy of living in Your Kingdom.