The Kingdom of God is Near

This reflection by Ryan Eusoya was originally posted on his blog, where the road lies.

Of course a number of issues bother young people today, among them sex, relationships, academic and career options, etc. So for anyone of us with a faith background, we deal with the relevance of faith in our lives, as well as one other question that becomes pertinent with maturity into adulthood: What is the will of God in my life?

It is a question that becomes more real with the progression of age in a person as well mankind. Perhaps sometime in the past a young man could only choose between becoming a farmer like his father or doing nothing and perish; now we tell our children they can be whatever they want to be, which is only a stretch of the truth but possible nonetheless. In this day and age we are confronted with infinite decisions from the inane to the imperative, either of which could affect us greatly somewhere down the road in life. Adults and the experienced in years tell us of how the choices they made in the past led them to where they are today. Some say it was the Lord’s providence, others say it was luck and happenchance, or an existential act of success, or altogether all of that or none of that. And so with this context, many people my age with a Christian background go all out to find the exact and dutiful will of God for our lives. We don’t want to make any mistakes and we don’t want to go through any heartbreak and we don’t want to waste thousands in college tuition or waste years of our lives studying a subject that bores the life out of us. We want to find what is right for us and what will make us succeed. In the right cases, our pursuits will be honest because we want to do what God wants so we can be instruments of God’s peace.

I should note that there are also peers – with religious backgrounds -who don’t care really what the specific will of God is in their lives as it relates to their academic studies and career in the future. They freely do what they want to do, a purely existential this-is-what-I-want-do-damn-it attitude, nothing against God. I say good for them; if you’re set on your course I’m not going to stop you and neither is God unless He wants to.

On the other hand there are believers who say God told them to be a congresswoman to save America from the devil e.g. Michele Bachmann. Ok.

The question of the will of God in our lives is also closely related to why do we as mankind exist on earth? That question has also been asked since the beginning, and I believe the message of Christ addresses all of these issues, but also all of these contingencies — those who want to do right, those who do whatever damn they want to, and those who put words in God’s mouth. See, for ages before Christ and after Christ, we’ve asked what are we doing here or what does God want me to do in my life? Naturally — we only have one life and we want to make it matter. It’s a question that a young Jewish girl in Persia named Hadassah asked and what a young college freshman asks now, because this concept of the will of God presses us when we are confused about our futures or we’re confronted with life-altering decisions.

Perhaps that is why when Jesus starts preaching, his central point isn’t restoring a nation state of Israel or of heaven, or even salvation or righteousness by faith. Instead He starts talking about the kingdom of God and clothing the naked, feeding the poor, and loving our neighbor. And what is the kingdom of God? No it actually isn’t expressly heaven or the second coming — the kingdom of God is the will of God, and effectively wherever the will of God is taking place. It’s where we are clothing the naked, feeding the poor, healing the sick, visiting those in prison, and loving our neighbor unconditionally. The kingdom of God is where blacks and whites are unconditionally aiding each other after a hurricane,  where Mother Teresa was tending to the poor and dying, where Christians in Africa are surrounding their Muslim brethren so they can pray in peace, where guerrilla forces are laying down their arms to heal a torn nation. The kingdom of God is where instead of hatefully protesting at an abortion clinic, a Baptist lady is comforting a crying teenage girl inside; it is where instead of lining up to eat at Chick-fil-a only in spitefulness, evangelicals are elbowing in a soup kitchen to feed the homeless. Yes this is social justice, but this is what it should mean to be a decent human being.

It is this understanding of the kingdom of God that I’ve made sense of what to do with my life. I think of the scribe who asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, Jesus saying it was to love God with all one’s heart, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. The scribe confirms, saying that these actions were greater than any burnt sacrifice. Jesus responds, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And the people marveled. I feel called to spend my life in dedication of expressing true Christianity and expanding the kingdom of God. Perhaps it is an existential choice that we must make, that God doesn’t have a specific blueprint for our lives, but a direction and a goal. Maybe God wants us to go forth in our lives pursuing our goals and desires while remembering we must be able and willing supporters of building the kingdom of God. Or is it entirely possible God is asking us at this point near the end of time to give up our intentions in this world and actually follow Christ in the most radical notion of selflessness? All these desires for living comfortably or pursuing the so-called American dream and the preaching of the prosperity gospel are reasonably the antithesis of the kingdom of God.

I believe we are living the denouement of the great controversy, and that the kingdom of God, the metaphysical and the literal, is near. If a young person should seek to know the will of God in their life, they are going to find this the kingdom of God, is altogether an exciting and daunting prospect, or a radical notion that should be ignored or muted.

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