I once drove with my family between Zambia and Namibia. We didn’t really know the area very well and we accidentally left the country and entering ‘no man’s land’ before getting our passports stamped. So we had to go back into Zambia, get stamped out and then leave again for Namibia. The border wasn’t very clearly defined.
In both Mark’s and Matthew’s gospels, when Jesus starts his public ministry he preaches that the Kingdom of God is ‘at hand’, or ‘has drawn near’. It wasn’t far off. It was right there. Where Jesus was, the kingdom of God was right there.
This would have been confusing for the Jews of Jesus’ day who were looking for a physical kingdom. They were looking for a physical kingdom. Jesus was preaching about another kind of kingdom. In their understanding the borders of the kingdom were poorly defined and Jesus was starting the process of correcting that definition.
In fact, Jesus was in the kingdom. Theologians tell us that the kingdom of God is God’s people under God’s rule. And Jesus was certainly God’s person under God’s rule. So where ever Jesus went, the kingdom was right there.
The way to cross the border was through both repentance and accepting Jesus. We see something of this in Jesus’ teaching on casting our demons. Jesus says, ‘if I cast out demons by the power of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you’. In other words, if you accept the work of Jesus and move from the power and influence of the devil to the power and influence of God then you have entered the kingdom.
This line of though leaves me thinking how much power and influence I give to God in my life. I surely want to be a part of the kingdom of God. Where is the border and how does it work? Is it a proportional thing? Am I as much in the kingdom as I give power and influence to God in my life? How much am I committed to being in this kingdom and giving influence in my life?