Deep in our hearts we long very much for a better world. Jesus came to us to show us this better world, His Kingdom. If we follow Him, we will bring His Kingdom (World 2.0) into this world.
I have fond memories of the first time I flew to Canada. And it was doubly wonderful because it was right after my recruit school. I was immediately fascinated by the nature, the vastness, the possibilities and freedom that this huge country has to offer. This visit gave me the big dream of living and working in Canada for a while. It was my great desire to move to a country that was more fascinating than the one I grew up in. Fortunately, I had the privilege of living in the country of my dreams for almost twenty years. At about this moment, my wife Jocelyn boards a plane in Kloten to take her to Canada.
I am not the only one who dreams. We all dream of something better, bigger or more beautiful. For some, this is a nicer house, a better car, a brilliant job or simply a life without worries. Statistics show that many people are simply not happy with their current lives. Manyarenot satisfied with theirbody, what they have achieved or how they have been treated. Last week I read a gruelling report in a newspaper: The USA has a new sad record - in twelve months more than 100,000 people have died from drugs. These 100,000 and the hundreds of thousands or even millions who use drugs are not satisfied with themselves or their environment. With drugs they could escape for a short time into another world and forget everything. By extension, I'm sure we've all noticed that in this world, or in the skin we're in, not everything is perfect. The many Corona discussions confirm this: Our world is anything but flawless.
Longing for a new world
Iwould now like to use the Bible to discover what this world we long for looks like. In the second chapter of the first book of Moses, we hear what this perfect world looked like. In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in harmony with God. In this close relationship, God entrusted them with his property. We read: "So the Lord God took man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it" (Genesis 2:15 EU). At that time, people lived in harmony with God, nature and themselves. They cultivated with joy what was entrusted to them. For Adam and Eve, this was certainly not a job for which they clocked in at seven in the morning and could hardly wait until five in the evening. No, they were given a vocation with which they cherished and cared for what had been entrusted to them with joy and creativity. But only for a short time did they live in this perfect world. Many will now remember the fall of humanity at this point. Adam and Eve were banished from this beautiful land. They now had to work hard for their daily bread and morals suffered shipwreck. In the next chapter we read how Cain killed his brother Abel. Two pages later we learn how man's wickedness became so great that God had to send a flood to stop this downward spiral. Even after the flood, coexistence was anything but harmonious.
From the beginning we now make a great leap to the last book of the Bible. In Revelation, the book about the future, we read about the city on the mountain. In this wonderful place, where God wipes away the tears of all his followers, there is complete healing. It will be a wonderful place. In a revelation John sees this new city where all people live together in perfect harmony with God. "The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city (the city on the mountain), and all its inhabitants will serve and worship God" (Revelation 22:3 NGÜ). In this new world, as the city on the mountain is called, we will serve and worship God. Worship does not only involve words, it is much greater.
Worship is everything we do to honour God. We can work in such a way that we give Him the glory or not. In the new kingdom of heaven we will work and be creative. We will enjoy and creatively use with joy all that is entrusted to us. We will serve God and our fellow human beings with enthusiasm and creativity. This new city will be a very interesting place where we will live together in joy and harmony. Deep in our hearts we are eagerly waiting for this place, we are burning to experience this city on the mountain.
That's all very well, but what does it mean for us today? Do Christians now all have to wait eagerly for death to experience this fantastic city on the mountain? Certainly we can look forward to it, but God's plan is that we already experience a foretaste of this city today. God sent his Son Jesus to earth with a mission. As a thirty year old he had the honour of reading the Scriptures and he was given the book of Isaiah. He opened it at the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has called me and empowered me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor. I proclaim liberty to the captives, to the blind I say that they shall see, and to the oppressed that they shall be freed from all violence. I proclaim to them a year in which the Lord will show his mercy. Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue servant and sat down. Everyone looked at him expectantly. He began: Today, as youhearthese words, the prophet's prediction has been fulfilled." (Luke 4:18-21 HfA). In the book of Isaiah was the promise of a king who would bring good news and healing. Jesus said after the lecture in the synagogue that He is that person. After this lecture He began His official mission and brought the good news with healing to all. Jesus spoke again and again of this city on the mountain, as can be heard several times in the Sermon on the Mount. Fortunately, He not only spoke of it, but also brought a foretaste of this city on the mountain.
Before dying on the cross, Jesus told His disciples that it was good for Him to go. He promised the disciples to ask the Father to send the Helper so that they could continue His mission. God complied with the request when He sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. All who follow Jesus receive this Spirit to experience healing. Jesus came with the mission to bring heaven to earth. He passed this mission on to us and empowered us with the Spirit. How exactly does this work? In the parable of the sower, Jesus explains how we are empowered.
The new world in our midst
This parable is about the seed that falls into four different hearts. The seed is "If anyonehearsthe message of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 13:19 NGÜ). The word of the new kingdom of heaven is scattered in our hearts. This seed is like a new DNA that changes our heart (metamorphosis). In a healthy heart, this seed grows and produces the virtues that will reign in the city on the mountain. This plant continues to grow and bear abundant fruit.
Jesus had described the fruit in the Sermon on the Mount. Furthermore, we find a list of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians. The Franciscan prayer that we hear in the trailer before the sermon also speaks of this fruit. At the end of this prayer we hear something very profound: "He who gives receives, he who forgives is forgiven. He who dies is born to eternal life."For us humans, this does not sound logical. If you give, you have less, if you forgive, you lose something and if you die, you are dead. At first sight, these new values do not seem to make sense. But in the Kingdom of God, other laws apply. I call this "the upside down kingdom". The Holy Spirit helps us to understand and grow in these new values. A small example about the upside down values: In this world you have to be beautiful, super smart or work perfectly to be loved. You have to work for "being loved". In the kingdom of God, we are loved first and only from this love does the fruit arise.
Sometimes, when we hear about bearing fruit, we immediately stress: "Again, I'm being asked to do something that I've never been able to do all my life." The fascinating thing about Christianity is that it is not about following rules in our own strength, but that God helps us. Jesus prepared the way and the Father sent the Holy Spirit to help us. We read in the Scriptures: "Itis the Spirit who makes alive; the flesh is not able to do this. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life" (John 6:63 NGÜ). Jesus declared that his words, together with the Holy Spirit, make us alive. In Ephesians we read how this seed sent into our hearts changes us: "For what we are is God's work; he created us through Jesus Christ to do what is good and right. God has prepared everything we are supposed to do; It is now up to us to carry out what has been prepared" (Ephesians 2:10 NGÜ). We must rely on His power, our will fails us and we will be exhausted. We must not constantly compare our fruit with that of others, otherwise we also run the risk of becoming either arrogant or depressed. God does not expect us to be the best, but to give our best. He has created us differently and given us different tasks. With His help, we fully realise the potential given to us.
In conclusion, I would like to summarise: God brings his Kingdom of Heaven into this world through our hearts. God is planting a seed, a new DNA, in our hearts that will grow and bring the kingdom culture into this world. God wants to express his love through us. Over the next few days we can think about what that might look like. We can dream creatively how God, through us, wants to bring his kingdom into this world.
Possible questions for the small groups
Read the Bible text: Luke 4:18-21
- At what moments do I want to escape into another world? With mistakes, disappointments, rejection ...
- What do you wish God would change in you?
- Which virtue comes easiest to you? Joy, patience, generosity ...
- With which virtue do you best represent God?
- Have you thought (dreamed) about how God wants to bring His Kingdom into this world through you?
- 10 years after your death, what do you want to be remembered for? A single memory.
- If our creativity continues in heaven, how would you like to serve/worship God through your creative work?