“Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.” Luke 23:50-51
When others were cursing Jesus or hiding in fear, Joseph stepped up and took the crucified body of Jesus, wrapped it in linen cloth, and put him in a new tomb. What was different about this man? What contrasted him with his contemporaries?
Joseph was looking for the kingdom of God.
Like so many today, most were looking for a political savior, one who would bring them prosperity and relief from the rule of tyranny. They wanted more comforted lives. But Joseph was different. He recognized both the compassion and the authority of Jesus as the one who ushered in this kingdom of God – in heaven, and here on earth.
It’s easily missed, isn’t it? The kingdom of God here on earth, right now.
The words roll easily enough off our lips when we pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) In one sense, it’s hard to see God’s kingdom of righteousness in an unjust world. It puzzles us to consider God’s kingdom in the midst of suffering, pain and sorrow. To be truthful, we’re so easily distracted by the task of making a living that we become forgetful of the life we are making. We don’t see what we don’t look for.
But if we could convince ourselves to step back and determine that we are going to intentionally look for the kingdom of God, here on earth, every single day, what do you suppose we would find? Would we find joy in compassion, perseverance in time of trouble, and hope in the darkness?Would we see the hurting people around us, the lonely and weak? If we were looking for the kingdom of God, not just in heaven, but here on earth, how would it affect our agendas, ambitions, and motivations for living?
Looking for the kingdom of God is not a quest to find the right church, the right circumstances in your life, or some peaceful plot of land free of conflict. It’s not a place on earth at all. God’s kingdom is not found only at the end of your pain and sorrow; but in the middle of it as well. Jesus told us, “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21) It’s established not by saying some prayer but by the surrender of our whole heart, life and being to his way, his truth, and his life. The kingdom of God is the peace, love, compassion, joy, and power we find for living above our circumstances and beyond ourselves. It is finding fulfillment and meaning in cooperating with the creator of the universe, of being fully his.
It won’t be forced on anyone who doesn’t want to discover it or receive it. But the kingdom of God will be found by those who are looking for it within the depth of their hearts. We like to think we are great multi-taskers, but I suspect we truly only find the kingdom of God when we discover the freedom of surrendering all our competing ambitions to the singular pursuit of putting first the kingdom of God…
– on earth, as it is in heaven.
What are you looking for?