The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news! (Mark 1:15).
What a rude awakening. It matters little how you slept last night. Maybe you managed to sleep soundly for seven hours, fantastic dreams, no alarm to jar you to consciousness. In Paul’s colorful language, you can “count it all dung” (Phil. 3:8). Thanks to an arctic air mass that has crept down from its rightful confines in the north, this morning’s wake up promises to be a rough one. It’s probably somewhere between 10-15 degrees this morning in Atlanta. The rest of the country isn’t doing much better. A rude awakening indeed.
A couple of nights ago I watched a local forecast, noting the energized demeanor of the weather reporter, a slight note of glee in his foreboding narrative of what would be taking place Thursday night. He showed a map that tracked the enemy’s approach (this is Georgia, so anything that keeps you from jogging outdoors in January is a nemesis). The ominous advance of cold was dipping down below Illinois and into Tennessee. It made a scooping line across the nation, taking aim at the Peach state.
Now it’s here. Laying siege to Atlanta much as General Sherman did and with about as much popularity. Sadly the weather reporter was right. No one is escaping this invasion. Even Floridians will feel the pain.
The weather map gave me a visual reference for a pervasive reality. Now if only there were some way of seeing how God’s activity and presence is advancing, invading the world with as much power as last night’s cold air. A colorful map or a graph with spiritual isobars would make it much easier to find God in the everyday.
Jesus gave language to God’s presence among us by announcing that the Kingdom was “at hand.” In Jesus, God’s rule over all things was made real. Along with the verbal proclamation, Jesus did things to show us that God was on the move: He healed the sick, he fed the hungry, he commanded evil spirits and gave orders to the elements of nature. For the grand finale he died and then rose again. The Kingdom is moving in, covering everything. No one is left out; nothing is untouched by God’s presence in the world. And we are invited to respond.
Jesus explained to Nicodemus that the Spirit of God moves like wind (John 3:8). Like the arctic air mass that has wandered far from its native habitat, the Kingdom of God moves in and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Some welcome it. Others have as little regard for the Kingdom as I do for the bitter cold. But it moves in without taking a public opinion poll. God is at work everywhere. The Kingdom is at hand.
The cold air this morning cannot be ignored. Its presence is obvious, forcing changes in what we wear and what we do (no outdoor jogging for most of us). If only God’s kingdom were as obvious. Too often we miss it; it covers everything and we barely notice. If only we could wake up to God among us like we woke up to the cold. The invitation still stands. In the words of Jesus, repent, believe, get ready.
Make me alive to your presence today, O Lord. Let your Spirit move like wind across every part of my life. Help me to notice, to see it. Make me ready to respond to what you are doing in this world as your Kingdom advances. Amen.