In my last post I talked about some of the attributes of the kingdom of God that we learn about in the Old Testament; perfect bodies, no death or sorrow, restored earth, peace with people and animals, love and acceptance among each other for eternity, just to name a few. Sounds like a pretty great place to live! It is definitely I place that I want to be able to experience and be a part of. I also want as many other people to be a part of it as possible.
Some of you may not believe in an afterlife, and that’s okay, but if you could have all of these things listed above, wouldn’t you want to? It is not up to me to convince someone to believe in God or to follow Jesus, but when people are open and willing, I am more than happy to present them with why I believe in God and why I choose to follow Jesus. I also am trying my best to reflect them in my every day life; so when someone looks at me and sees something different, they might ask themselves how can I get that?
When I say that I have this goal of following Jesus – what does that even mean?
It means I learn about him; I read about him in the Bible. What did he do, how did he act, what did he spend his time on, and what did he say?
I am going to focus on the ‘what did he say part.’ Jesus was often surrounded by people; his disciples and crowds of people flocked to him because of his healing and knowledge of God. One of the major overarching topics that he spoke on was the kingdom of God. He taught about what the kingdom of God was like and how to get into the kingdom of God.
Why, out of all the topics, was this one so important to Jesus? People saw what he had, they saw the light that he emitted and they wanted to have that to. Jesus knew of the many promises that God makes to us. He could feel assured about what was going to happen to him after he died. He did not have to be afraid or worried about what was going to come next. He KNEW. And because he knew he could share it with others and hopefully give them the same assurance that he had.
When Jesus started his ministry and started teaching and preaching to people, his VERY FIRST topic was about the kingdom of God. Many people may know this teaching as “The Sermon on the Mount” or the “Beatitudes”. He started teaching people about the hope they can have in God and what they will inherit and how to make sure they DID inherit it.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3). What Jesus is saying here is, “Hey, you want to have some of the kingdom of God? Have a humble attitude and it will be yours.”
He goes on to say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt 5:4). I can tell you with certainty that Jesus isn’t talking about our present time. Anyone that has had someone that they love die, you don’t feel blessed. He is talking about the future, when God has restored his kingdom, and just like he said in Isaiah 25:8 “The Lord Yahweh will wipe away tears from off all faces.” We will be comforted by God himself in the future and that is something we have to look forward to.
Later on, during this same teaching Jesus teaches people about where their hearts should be. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:19-21).
This life is only for a short period of time. Even if we live to be 100, that is just a blimp in comparison to eternity. What Jesus is saying is do the things in this life that will make your next life better, because that is the one that is going to last. Be kind, be humble, be giving, be loving, be compassionate and forgiving. These are all things that God takes notice of and “stores up treasures in heaven.”
So, let’s go ALLLLL THE WAY BACK to my original question here. I was trying to find different ways of talking to people about God and Jesus; how to bring it up in conversation and how to get pique people’s interest. Just imagine if you started making statements like,
“Ya, I hate being sick, I can’t wait until there is no more sickness and we have perfect bodies”
“Someday we won’t have to worry about people that we love dying.”
“Won’t it be nice when all evil is gone and everyone is nice to each other?”
I bet you would get some great questions about those statements. People will want to know what you are talking about.
There are so many promises that God makes to us throughout the Bible about what our next life will be like. If we can get these firmly in our minds, it not only gives us hope and something firm to hold on to, our anchor, but it also gives us an opportunity to share it with others. No matter what you are going through or struggling with right now, know that it will be better.
We know that when the kingdom of God comes, “the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:3-4).