Today’s scriptures remind us of the reality of the Kingdom of God and its implications for us in our daily living. This topic causes some consternation, as we undoubtedly fall short of the standards required of citizens of this Kingdom. Yet we have this great assurance that the Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
Paul lays out the foundation of the Kingdom in the beginning verses of Colossians 3, where he reminds us that Christ is seated at the right hand of God, reigning over the Kingdom. The truth of the resurrection and the source of our redemption, which was seen temporarily on earth by those persons to whom Christ appeared, is on permanent display in heaven. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God, which is a place of security and comfort. Divisions and barriers which may affect us now do not operate in this Kingdom, as we are all citizens together. And unlike kingdoms of this world, our King is compassionate beyond our understanding.
I have a tendency to forget that Christ is reigning, as the press of daily life and its demands often seek to convince me of another reality. Sometimes the events of life that draw out from us the things that Paul is telling us to put away, such as anger, malice, and slander, are also indicators of the reality that all is not right in the world. We are understandably angry when others do wrong to us. But then we may slander them with unfair criticism and retain a bitter heart of unforgiveness. Rather than the “discourse about the Kingdom and the glory of [God’s] might”, as the Psalmist entreats us, it is easy to discourse about the flaws and failings we see in this world, including those we see in others. That discourse is sometimes necessary, but it also may reveal our own shortcomings in putting on the character of a citizen in this Kingdom. Our King has not stopped ruling, and we are reminded that He will indeed return.
In understanding our King, we must also remember the message in today’s Psalm, “The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.” Luke’s record of the “Sermon on the Plain” reminds us that blessedness can come from conditions that we might not otherwise prefer, and that woes can come from conditions that we ordinarily embrace. Once again, we are reminded that things are not as they may seem; we must remember who is reigning as King. When we are struggling, He is with us and we are in a state of blessedness because of this truth. When things are going well, we still need to remember the reality of the Kingdom, instead of getting our comfort from this temporary state of things. (And from my experience, those conditions are indeed very temporary.)
Though some sins are more easily understood, others, like envy, are truly puzzling. Our occasional tendency to experience sadness at the good of others is a particularly disturbing reality in our world, affecting us individually and collectively. It is possible that the woes pronounced in Luke’s gospel may also serve a function of calming this tendency. It is much easier not to envy when you realize that the apparent “good” of another may not necessarily be a source of blessedness. This teaching may thus reflect God’s compassion toward us by helping us with this weakness.
I believe when we focus on God’s compassion, it is easier for us to put off those things Paul is writing about. But this is something that I need to be reminded about often. I need the help of others to keep me grounded in this truth.
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