WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2021 - Happy New Year? No, Happy NEW WORLD!
WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2021
Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is John 18:36, where Jesus says,
My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.
Happy New Year? No, Happy NEW WORLD!
Happy “Christ the King” Sunday! On this past Sunday many Christian Churches around the world celebrated the reign of Jesus Christ. The last Sunday of the liturgical church year commemorates His rule every year no matter what is happening at the moment. It reminds us that all things are moving ahead toward the final day when Christ will come again and judge the living and the dead. This Sunday Christians who follow a liturgical calendar then enter into a new church year. In so doing, they join all believers in celebrating the fact that Christ’s Kingdom is present now in this world. His Kingdom is here in the midst of worldly kingdoms that are passing away, but it is a radically different Kingdom, one of undeserved forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life as a gift of God’s grace. It’s a comfort to know that God is always at work to preserve the world so that He might offer entrance into His eternal Kingdom by grace through faith in Christ alone. Happy New (Church) Year! Yes, but, even more so, we yearn for a happy NEW WORLD in Christ, both now and forever.
During this time of waiting, one of the hardest things to deal with is the apparent delay in Jesus’ return. What we know by faith, we don’t yet see with our eyes. There is still the reality of sin and pain in this world. Often Christians are tempted to believe that Jesus came into this world merely to make this sinful world “just a little better.” We are tempted to think that Jesus only wishes to give us a bit of grace so that we can change things ourselves or at least be empowered to endure them. Now it is true that trying to lead a moral and ethical life, and to serve our fellow human beings in Jesus’ Name can make this world better. But the Bible teaches that Jesus came to give so much more!
So, there’s real tension in being Christ’s people today. There’s the tension of living in the world as it is, and, at the same time, living under His gracious reign already now because of what Christ has done on the cross for us all. It’s the reality of HIS Kingdom IN this world, FOR this world, but not OF this world. Jesus inaugurated that Kingdom His way, through the cross, so that all might receive it by grace, through faith, in Him alone.
Revelation 21 gives us a glimpse of His Kingdom in all its future glory. St. John writes,
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had
passed away….3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling
place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
He alone “makes all things new!” And the day is coming when what we know is true by faith, will be true by sight as well. But, in the meantime, God calls us to receive Christ’s Kingdom by grace through faith. He calls us to share this Kingdom not by force (the way of this world), but by service (the way of His Kingdom). Jesus clearly differentiates His Kingdom from all others. He teaches us to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). But Scripture also teaches that Caesar’s authority is given by God for God’s purposes, and not Caesar’s own (see Romans 13:1). Caesar’s authority, Pilate’s authority, and even the authority of our own politicians is real and intended by God to be beneficial, but it isn’t able to save. Instead, it is entrusted to them in order to preserve order in this sinful world so that the message of the Gospel, the message of the coming “new heavens and the new earth,” can be proclaimed for all to hear, calling all “out of darkness into (Christ’s) marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
May we never forget which Kingdom lasts forever. Yes, God now works through His Two Kingdoms. In one He aims to work through earthly authorities to bless and preserve; in the other, He saves, both for now and forever, in and through Jesus Christ. You can be a part of both His preserving and saving work for others. You’ll be glad that you did! Every “Happy New Year” lasts only for the year. But “Happy New World” will last forever!
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, amidst all the distractions of this world, please keep my heart and mind on Your Kingdom, the Kingdom that lasts. AMEN.
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