Week 1, Day 5: Repent and believe
LOOK & LISTEN: Deidox Films, “Embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven.”
READ: MARK 1:14-15
Jesus came to inaugurate the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is a central reality and concern for Jesus. Seeing the kingdom come on earth — where God rules and reigns in every life and every sphere of life — is what Jesus is about. It is one of the first things he talks about when he begins his ministry: “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15, NIV).
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘repent’? Maybe it’s someone on a soapbox or preaching loudly on a street corner; maybe it’s feeling bad or remorseful. The term that’s used in Greek is metanoia, and it basically means “change your mind” or, as Dallas Willard puts it, “rethink your thinking.” In other words, in light of the new reality — the kingdom reality — that Jesus brings near and exemplifies and makes available, everything will need to be rethought! The way we do life, the way we spend our money, the way we treat other people — all of it will need to be rethought.
“Repent,” Jesus says, “and believe the good news.” Belief is more than an intellectual assent to something; it is to consider it true and trustworthy, and, therefore, to act as if it is true. What would it look like to act as if what Jesus said were true? Dutch statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper said it well:
There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, “This is mine! This belongs to me!”
If all of creation belongs to Jesus, who was present with God at creation and through whom all things were made (John 1:1-4), then every area of life should be held up to the words and truths of Jesus, to the principles and priorities of God’s kingdom. For example, how we handle our money — as individuals, as families, as organizations, and even as a nation — should be judged on the basis of how they reflect the values of the kingdom, for instance, how much is devoted to caring for the poor and the oppressed, how much it reflects a welcome of strangers and immigrants. How we understand and engage in romantic relationships and marriage should be done with an understanding of kingdom relationships, and that Jesus, who lived the fullest life a human ever has, was a single, celibate man who never mistreated or mocked or lusted after a woman. How we think about power should be influenced by the words of Jesus, who clearly contrasted the way of his kingdom with the way of the world, in Mark 10:42-45 (The Message):
“You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served — and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”
It is no mistake that the word “kingdom” had political connotations in biblical times. Jesus was challenging every lie that had been set up by sin and selfishness, that had been perpetuated by systems and structures, and he was pointing to a better reality, that he himself would live out. He invites us to do the same.
REFLECT & RESPOND
Head: What do you think Jesus’ kingship has to say to the systems and structures of our day? For example, how do you think Jesus would respond to politicians on Capitol Hill, or what do you think he would prioritize in talking to businesspeople or entrepreneurs, or what do you think he would be pushing back on in our culture?
Heart: When was the last time you were wrong and admitted it to someone?
Hands: What would it look like for your life and your home to be an embassy of the kingdom of heaven? Write on a post-it note (or on your hand) the word “Ambassador” to remind you of who you are. At the end of the day, reflect on how it affected your perspective.
Spend time reflecting on and praying this line from the Lord’s Prayer:
“May your kingdom come, may your will be done, on earth as in heaven.”
Every area of life should be held up to the words and truths of Jesus.