This is a guest post by Jonathan Bell, a long-time friend of Wayfarer. He serves as the Director of Student Ministries at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Torrance, CA and is an amazingly talented artist. He and his wife, the ever-talented and hilarious Michaela, are expecting their first child (a little girl!) in May.
Jonathan will be leading with us at our upcoming Wayfarer workshop in San Francisco, CA on
February 10-12. Click here for more information!
Kingdom at Hand
Seek first the Kingdom of God – Matthew 6:33
Set your minds on things above, not on things on the earth – Colossians 3:2
I have a lot of students who are part of our youth ministry that play sports. I love it. I get to talk with them about sports. I get to go watch them play sports and thereby invest relational and physical capital in them in an easy and low-maintenance way. But the thing I love most is that students who play sports get injured. Let me clarify, I hate to see my students hurt, but I love to see what God will do when given an opportunity to move in POWER. At least half of the numerous healings we’ve experienced at our High School gathering this year have been as a direct result of sports injuries. As a youth pastor and a spiritual father to dozens of students I am constantly looking for ways to practically and tangibly show them the power and love that their Heavenly Father so desperately wants to lavish on them. Signs and wonders that display the miraculous nature of Heaven are hands down one of the best ways to do this. But I’m not satisfied with a couple of physical healings here and there. And I’m definitely not satisfied with the millions of students across the nation who are suffering and hurting and crying out for a God to save them but find themselves trapped in the all too familiar prison of doubt, where they question the strength, power, and willingness-to-act, of a God who is all too distant.
So this month (and this year, and this decade…) I have been reflecting a lot on the Kingdom of God; on the nature of the “already/not yet” reality of God’s Kingdom. And when I look around at my own life and the life of all the student ministries I know, I can’t help but think that we live a great deal too much in the “not yet” side of the Kingdom. I think that most of us live much too firmly planted in the realities of this world and we look forward to one day being in Heaven and seeing the realities of the new creation. There’s a big problem with this however, as it requires absolutely no faith. Everything becomes rooted in what you can SEE. We live in the reality of earth (what we can see) and we look forward to being in Heaven (which we will see). We need to start living a lot more in the “already” nature of God’s Kingdom; to live in the reality of what is unseen.
The kingdom of man is easy to understand; we can see it. It is right in front of us every single day. Buildings and streets, schools and jobs, roads and cars, politicians and governments, nations and states and cities and towns, hospitals and cemeteries, sickness and pain, divorce and brokenness…it’s very tangible and pretty darn hard to ignore. Then there is the Kingdom of God which exists in and around us every single second of every single day, but it is easy to miss because it’s harder to see. The Kingdom of God is only accessible by a rewiring of your heart and mind by the redemptive and transformative work of the Holy Spirit made possible through the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood. It’s a Kingdom of power and of light, healing and freedom, joy and love, peace and kindness, it is the breaking of depression, the liberating of those trapped in fear, it is hope for the nations. And it is the greater reality.
I think we get so caught up in what we can see that we start to think that what we CAN SEE is the greater reality when in fact the greater reality is in what we CANNOT SEE. Let me say that again: what is invisible is more real than what is visible. The Kingdom of God is more real than the kingdom of man. Think about it, even here on earth, the invisible things are more powerful than the visible. Do the trees not bow down and bend at the power of the wind? Does gravity not hold power over everything on earth? Do the invisible rays of the sun not dictate every aspect of life? The temperature of the air mixing above our heads holds power over the greatest tornadoes and hurricanes. Even the crashing of the waves and the rising power of the ocean is controlled by the gravitational pull of the moon. So it is in the Kingdom of God.
We get so wrapped up with what we can see: my finances are crumbling so I cannot afford to tithe. My health is failing me so I have no hope. My addiction has crippled me for years. My body is confined to this wheelchair so I cannot walk. I’m stressed and tired so I cannot give thanks. My youth group is small so it has no influence. Millions of teenagers are leaving the church so there is no future.
These are the realities of earth and they will only have power over us if we think that it is reasonable and normal for things to be that way. But when we partner with God, and become aware of his identity, his nature and how that affects our identity then everything changes. In the invisible realm, in the Kingdom of God there is no unbelief, there are no wheelchairs, casts, crutches or pain medications, there are no hopeless prognoses, there is no addiction, no chains, no prisoners, no depression, no despair. The reality of Heaven is health not sickness, prosperity not poverty, hope not fear. We must seek first the Kingdom of God for it is at hand! (Mark 1:15) It is within reach, we must simply exercise FAITH to make the withdrawal from the invisible and heavenly Kingdom of God. Our abundant life is hidden in the Kingdom of God and only faith can make the withdrawals. There are realities on earth that are impossible to change on our own strength, but when we exercise faith and reach into the invisible realities of heaven then all of a sudden the impossible becomes possible. People get out of wheelchairs. Cancer disappears. Depression is broken. Sickness and pain evaporate. Worry and stress are destroyed. Death loses its sting. Hope sets people free. The dead begin to rise. Miraculous provision is abundant. Young people will be saved in their thousands. There is no ‘impossible’ in the Kingdom of God because the Kingdom of God defies and breaks the rules of the kingdom of man. Just look at Jesus’ life. He is the perfect example of a life lived fully embracing the realities of what is not seen.
I think a lot of us (including myself) are still too rooted in waiting for what will come and we aren’t seeking out the full extent and abundance of what God is ALREADY DOING on Earth. On what Jesus has ALREADY DONE for us. We’ve repented enough to get forgiven but not enough to see the Kingdom break through. Repent and believe for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is near. It is right there. So set your mind above. Fully give yourself to God’s will, leave behind the things of earth and just watch what God will start to do in your life. There are thousands of students crying out for a demonstration of Jesus. Crying out for Heaven to break through into their lives and see that there is something more real than the stress, frivolity, and hopelessness of High School.
So the next time a student of yours is hurting, sick or losing hope, use that as an opportunity to speak into them the reality of the kingdom, and help them to see God’s unfailing and ever-present love. When a student walks into your high school gathering with a cast around their arm, or a protective boot around their foot, seek out the Kingdom of Heaven and turn the injury into a chance to bless your student and a chance to create a learning opportunity for everyone on how to exercise faith in bringing the supernatural into the natural. There is a greater reality than the one that exists in front of your eyes. It’s time to start showing it to people…
“It is abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible. It has been written into our spiritual DNA to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow at the name of Jesus” – Bill Johnson
If you have a question or comment about this topic, we’d love to hear from you! Write below: