The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you. Luke 17:20-21
I know a lot of Christians who spend loads of time identifying the signs of the coming Kingdom. They have charts and time lines and all of the signs clearly delineated. They know what signs have been fulfilled and what signs are yet to come. In fact, many people I know believe that if you don’t have a firm grasp on the prophetic time line for the return of Jesus, then your eternal salvation is at risk. But this is anything new. The Pharisees, of all people, were asking the very same question. They wanted to know the visible signs that could be seen & verified of the Kingdom of God.
But Jesus disappoints them with His answer in Luke 17:20-21. What I get from His answer is that I need to be worried about what is IN me, not what is happening around me. Why? Because what is in me will determine how I respond to the circumstances around me. When Jesus is in me, it doesn’t matter what is happening around me. When Jesus is in me, I have peace, wisdom, insight, and strength to overcome any temptation, any battle, and any foe. When Jesus is in me, I know His voice. When Jesus is in me, I am certain I will recognize His presence when He returns.
It was in May 2011 that I competed in a triathlon. The water was cold and I could never catch my breath to swim effectively. I had to keep my head above water the entire time as I swam the side stroke for one mile. It was painful as I felt a severe shortness of breath the entire mile. I was overwhelmed, but I regrouped to be able to bike and then finally struggle to complete the run. It was a painful experience. And yet I took pride in completing the race. It wasn’t until February 2012 that I realized the cause of those symptoms was severe coronary artery disease. You see, what is in us will always affect how we respond to the circumstances around us. Internal health always determines external fitness. It may take a while for the heart disease to slow us down, but it will.
And yet we continue to focus on the externals of life. We want power and fame and money and possessions that make us look great, but mean nothing if our hearts are not occupied by Jesus and His love. We focus on what we can DO in His church and forget that we need to BE with Him. When we look for the signs of His coming tomorrow to the neglect of His presence today it’s like competing in a triathlon with severe heart disease. Jesus, the Master Physician, will heal your heart and bind your wounds so that you will not be overwhelmed in life. Sometimes we simply need to slow down, focus on God, and follow the advice we read in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God…” Then you will be living in the Kingdom of God today!