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Jesus Today – What is He up to? Is He in authority in heaven and on earth?

It’s been weeks since I blogged. I paused working on the new book Come and See, leaving off with the voice of Jesus during His first miracle that publicly began His reign as Sovereign over the earth. It was His first public act of supernatural authority. So extravagantly done, it was actually humorous of Him. With joy and ease, Jesus began to take back what Satan had stolen from humankind. I hardly wanted to move on in the story, it moved me so much.

Since then I’ve been engrossed with someone else’s book, a meaty, eloquently and thorough work by biblical historian N.T. Wright titled SIMPLY JESUS: A NEW VISION OF WHO HE WAS, WHAT HE DID, AND WHY HE MATTERS.

What a gift this book is to followers of Jesus or anyone wanting to know the truth about God’s Kingdom and purposes on earth. Wright makes sense of the whole picture, and delves deeply into the meaning and purposes of what God has done from the beginning, until the present, while creating expectation and confidence in what lies ahead. What a timely book this is, not only in my life, but in the life of the Church.  Praise the Holy Spirit in and through this man of excellent learning and profound insight and faith. I smiled while realizing that the novel I wrote called His Kingdom Come, about the days Jesus began His kingly reign, seems to artistically complement Wright’s ideas of what Jesus was all about when He first came and established God’s kingdom on earth. Of course biblical fiction is vastly different than a work of theology and scholarship. But how wonderful it is that God uses our talents and gifts to reveal His ways and purposes so diversely and meaningfully. I believe every believer has their own unique stuff to do, everyone, everywhere. Because this IS the coming of God’s Kingdom — through all of us who are His. We are so connected; we are a working body.

I appreciate how Wright explicitly shows his readers how Jesus is already an active, reigning King. Some people think Jesus is not bringing His Kingdom until He returns to earth in all His glory. Well, the Kingdom has been coming all along and won’t be completely here until we see His face.  Until then, we who belong to Him actually embody Him and are doing his work on earth. He truly is ruling over all things, working in the nations and events of history, as well as in small ways, planting seeds that become movements of grace and change.

It is amazing to realize: God put on flesh and became one of us, fulfilling His own promise to unite heaven and earth. It takes Holy Spirit enabled eyes to see it and participate in it.

Wright put it this way: “When God wants to change the world, he doesn’t send in the tanks. He sends in the meek, the mourners, those who are hungry and thirsty for God’s justice, the peacemakers, and so on. Just as God’s whole style, his chosen way of operating, reflects his generous love, sharing his rule with his human creatures, so the way in which those humans then have to behave if they are to be agents of Jesus’s lordship reflects in its turn the same sense of vulnerable, gentle, but powerful self-giving love. It is because of this that the world has been changed by people like William Wilberforce, campaigning tirelessly to abolish slavery; by Desmond Titu, working and praying not just to end apartheid, but to end it in such a way as to produce a reconciled, forgiving South Africa; by Cicely Saunders, starting a hospice for terminally ill patients ignored by the medical profession and launching a movement that has, within a generation, spread right around the globe.”

Actually, and I know W.T. Wright would probably agree, sometimes God does send in the tanks and heroes, after all, He is in charge. If you haven’t seen the movie Act of Valor – do yourself a favor. God is fighting through heroes, strong, brave soldiers — who pray and who fight with the hearts of lions. I am just saying that God is using people to run the world, just as Satan uses people to fight against God and His purposes. We know, though, who wins in the end.

 

Jesus will restore all things to their proper order. It will be completely “on earth as it is in Heaven” one day. The way this is coming about, though, has been happening through history, since Jesus walked among us. Since then, He gives us His Spirit to reside within us. We are connected to Him! We only need to be aware of what our own unique participation is as we participate with Him in building His Kingdom.  Each believer has his or her part. As Wright so simply put it: “One small action can start a trend.”

This is how God’s kingdom is being established in our world. I agree with Wright when he says:  “Jesus has all kinds of projects up his sleeve and is simply waiting for faithful people to say their prayers, to read the signs of the times, and to get busy.”

I used to think priests had the job of forgiving sins because they were God’s representatives. When the resurrected Jesus gave the authority to His apostles before leaving for heaven, He gave the profound power and authority to them to forgive people’s sins. Actually, that authority was not just for them, but it was for every single believer who had the job of making disciples of the nations… You see, forgiveness is really a matter of reconciliation with God. Forgiveness, true forgiveness and reconciliation involves real confrontation with what has gone wrong.”

We are about the business of reconciliation. Out the window goes the notion of priests and confessionals. Jesus intended so much.  All along, He wanted to give His followers His own authority and power, because it was to transform everyone and bring change. Jesus wants to bring His light into the dark recesses of hearts and nations through us.

Wright eloquently says it this way: “The poor in spirit will be making the kingdom of heaven happen. The meek will be taking over the earth, so gently that the powerful won’t notice until it’s too late. The peacemakers will be putting the arms manufacturers out of business. Those who are hungry and thirsty for God’s justice will be analyzing government policy and legal rulings and speaking up on behalf of those at the bottom of the pile. The merciful will be surprising everybody by showing that there is a different way to do human relations other than being judgmental, eager to put everyone else down, ‘You are the light of the world,’ said Jesus.’You are the salt of the earth.'”

He announced and stated these things as fact. He invites his hearers, then and now, to join Him in making it happen. Yes, He is in heaven. But at the same time, His presence is in the form of His Spirit inside of us, breathing through our lungs, speaking through our mouths, touching with our hands. He creates through us and heals through us. He is bringing restoration to all things through us. This is, quite simply, what it looks like when Jesus is enthroned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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