Violence promises us something we all deeply desire, something we genuinely want; violence promises us peace. Violence promises us, that in the end, when the last battle is fought, the last bomb is dropped, and the last enemy is slain, we will have what we always dreamed of – safety, a world without suffering, death or bloodshed; a world at rest. Yet, these are the very things Christ offers with the Kingdom of God. A world where the lamb will lay down with the lion, where swords are beaten into plowshares, where mercy and justice flow down like the waters, where every tear will be wiped away from our eyes, and where there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. Christ and violence seem to offer the same final result, the two being competitors for our allegiance.
The miracles of healing, important as they were, were not an end in themselves. They did not constitute the highest good of the messianic salvation. This fact is illustrated by the arrangement of the phrases in Matthew 11:4-5. Greater than deliverance of the blind and the lame, the lepers and the deaf, even than raising of the dead, was the preaching of the good news to the poor. This “gospel” was the very presence of Jesus himself, and the joy and fellowship that he brought to the poor.
What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.
The presence of the messianic salvation is also seen in Jesus' miracles of healing, for which the Greek word meaning "to save" is used. The presence of the Kingdom of God in Jesus meant deliverance from hemorrhage (Mk 5:34), blindness (Mk 10:52), demon possession (Lk 8:36), and even death itself (Mk 5:23). Jesus claimed that these deliverances were evidences of the presence of the messianic salvation (Mt 11:4-5). They were pledges of the life of the eschatological Kingdom that will finally mean immortality for the body. The Kingdom of God is concerned not only with people’s souls but with the salvation of the whole person.
We are at our best when we love the Lord and his church more than our style of life. We do not believe in our country, right or wrong. If evil has such a grip upon the institutions of government, we know that evil must be overthrown by one means or another. We are not monarchists, republicans or socialists, although our membership includes them all and more. We are pilgrims, who want to pass through a land that will support our journey to the Kingdom; and, if need be, the noblest of us will choose to occupy that land for a bit shorter time than usual rather than deny the Lord of the Kingdom.
To generate an enduring peace, we will each have to continue to make progress as Christ conscious leaders, becoming increasingly aware of our unity with others and expanding our ability to receive Divine Love and be a vehicle for Divine Love. We will each have to detach from any impediments in our tribes, our families, and our own self-will that deter us from a commitment to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives, to do our work, and to continue our lifelong transformation as Christ conscious leaders. And we will have to come to realize that, in partnership with the Eternal Absolute, we each have the power – and the
calling – to build the kingdom of God on earth.
The call to “take the land” ...is not a call to a new political, cultural or geographical dominance. It is Kingdom of God territory. It is the will of the Eternal God being done on earth, as it is in heaven.
The church is constituted as a new people who have been gathered from the nations to remind the world that we are in fact one people. Gathering, therefore, is an eschatological act as it is the foretaste of the unity of the communion of the saints.
The mission of Jesus brought not a new teaching but a new event. It brought to people an actual foretaste of the eschatological salvation. Jesus did not promise the forgiveness of sins; he bestowed it. He did not simple assure people of the future fellowship of the Kingdom; he invited them into fellowship with himself as the bearer of the Kingdom. He did not merely promise them vindication in the day of judgment; he bestowed upon them the status of a present righteousness. He not only taught an eschatological deliverance from physical evil; he went about demonstrating the redeeming power of the Kingdom, delivering people from sickness and even death.
[Salvation] is a life-changing experience when it happens, and if our life isn’t changed by it, then it either didn’t happen at all or we are so caught up in this world, spending so much time, effort, and emotion on the red circle, that we are ignoring the permanent, eternal, gigantic, blue part of the map in which we will forever be.
Jesus was the original street healer. He traveled the streets of Israel on foot, staying wherever He found lodging. During His travels He told people the secrets of their hearts, healed all who were sick and demon-possessed, raised the dead and shared the mysteries of the kingdom of God. This was His lifestyle and it could be yours.
Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God is the announcement by word and deed that God is acting and manifesting dynamically his redemptive will in history. God is seeking out sinners; he is inviting them to enter into the messianic blessing; he is demanding of them a favorable response to his gracious offer. God has again spoken. A new prophet has appeared, indeed one who is more than a prophet, one who bring to people the very blessings he promises.