Inheritance — Kingdom People
Luke 17:20-37 (NIVUK)
20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is in your midst.’
22 Then he said to his disciples, ‘The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, “There he is!” or “Here he is!” Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
26 ‘Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
28 ‘It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulphur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30 ‘It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding corn together; one will be taken and the other left.’
37 ‘Where, Lord?’ they asked.
He replied, ‘Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.’
When I was growing up in Glasgow I remember a constant sense of threat about there being a nuclear war. It was the height of the cold war between the Soviet Union and the West/NATO. The passage today reminds me of such thoughts.
For today’s generation a nuclear war seems to be less of a genre but climate change is very much the reality. Both stopping a nuclear war and climate change is in the hands of human beings — the weapons and power stations/cars/deforestation do not happen through their own self will. Jesus told His disciples that the Kingdom of God was in their midst — among them. Biblical studies suggest that this Kingdom is both with us and will fully be. It seems likely that what is meant as ‘fully be’ is a time when the whole created universe is made new by God to be a place which the Book of Revelation calls, the New Jerusalem. This is good news but it is not connected to thoughts of nuclear or climate change desolation of the planet. Rather in these penultimate times we are called to be Kingdom people dwelling in it for the good of the now. Caring for the planet as good stewards as we are called by God to be and making peace between the nations that one day our weapons might be unnecessary to maintain fragile peace through deterrence. It is a call for Christians to be advocates for a healthy relationship between human beings and the created order and with one another. It is ultimately the call to love.
Abba Father, may we be Your Kingdom people of love today living in harmony with creation and fellow human beings as witnesses to Your presence dwelling amongst us as the King. We make this prayer in King Jesus’ name. Amen.