In Back to the Future 2, old Biff Tannen goes back in time, meets his younger self and gives him a Sports Alamanac from the future, listing past sports results. Later young Biff begins to realise the significance of what he possesses. He bets on future sports games, knowing the results and becomes a multi-millionaire. But instead of using it for good he uses the Almanac for personal gain, turning the world into a terrible place. The rest of the movie is about how Marty and Doc unravel things and put them right. It’s a great story!
If you’ve seen the movie you’ll recall that when young Biff is first given the Almanac he doesn’t realise what he’s been given. This gift from the future is full of amazing potential, but it takes him a while to realise what he’s been given.
Similarly, followers of Jesus have been given a wonderful gift. It’s a gift from the future. A massive gift! A gift of more value and greater potential than any future Sports Almanac. It’s the Kingdom of God.
Jesus often called the Kingdom of God ‘the kingdom of heaven‘. That’s because it is heaven. It’s God’s dominion that his followers will experience fully in the future. But we don’t have to wait until heaven to experience the Kingdom. Whenever Jesus is at work, God’s Kingdom comes. It’s the future impacting the present. And disciples are called to continue this work, co-labouring with Christ in bringing his future Kingdom here on earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). That’s the mandate and commission (Matthew 28:18-20) of all who’ve ‘entered the Kingdom’ by started a new life following Jesus (John 3:5).
One question that Christ-followers often wrestle with, when considering God’s future Kingdom impacting the present, is this: how much of God’s Kingdom can we see, this side of heaven? Part of the answer is found in these remarkable words of Jesus: ‘the Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom’ (Luke 12:32). These words have profound implications.
Jesus means that we don’t just ‘enter’ the Kingdom when we give our lives to Christ. We’re given the Kingdom. It belongs to us. All that’s in the Kingdom, becomes ours. Including the vast resources and ‘treasure’ of heaven (Luke 12:33). So we can see this world transformed.
This means that all the resources needed to bring heaven to earth are available to us (Luke 17:21). Heaven is a place of no sin, sickness or sadness. So forgiveness – for sin – is available here on earth. So is healing – for sickness. So is comfort – for suffering. We don’t have to wait for heaven to begin to experience these things. They’ve been won through the death and resurrection of Christ and are available today – in the present.
This means that all the resources needed to live this Kingdom life are entrusted to us (1 Corinthians 13). All the faith, hope and love we need. Faith – to see the unseen; hope – to trust in a better future, and love – to give selflessly – are not just for some future time, they’re for now.
This means that all the resources needed to lead a worry-free life are ours (Luke 12:29-34). Clothes – to cover us and keep us warm; homes – to enjoy shelter and community, and money – to live and eat and give – are part of God’s Kingdom that he wants all to experience not just in eternity but now. It’s why we care the poor and disadvantaged so they can experience these things this side of heaven.
All these things and more are not just future possibilities but present realities in God’s Kingdom. Why? Because ‘the Father is pleased to give us the Kingdom.’
To be honest, I don’t know exactly how much of this future Kingdom we can see and experience, this side of heaven. But I for one am going to actively pursue more of this Kingdom (Luke 12:31), keeping my eyes fixed on it’s King, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:1-2), praying to see as much of the future invade the present as is possible. Because I’ve been given possession of the most powerful, beautiful, transformative realm created by God – his Kingdom.
Maybe I, and maybe many other Christ-followers, are a bit like young Biff in Back to the Future 2 – we don’t the realise the significance of what we possess.
Thank you Matthew – encouraging and challenging.
This is so encouraging 🙂 Thanks !