When I was a child I remember thinking, I can’t wait until I am a big kid… then things will be good. When I became a big kid, ( I never was very big), in 6th grade, I couldn’t wait until I got into junior high and had my own locker. When I got into junior high I couldn’t wait until I got into high school, got my driver’s license, a car, a girlfriend, graduated, went to college, got my own place, got married, had children, etc. etc.
My perception of the best situation and circumstance always existed somewhere in the future, and it remained that way when I found Jesus. At the Pentecostal church I attended, we sang and danced to a song that was representative and perpetuated the thinking; “ I’ll fly away oh glory, I’ll fly away…” Someday (when this life was over) things would be so much better, when I got raptured out of this wicked world and stood in the presence of God. Religion teaches us that God is I WILL BE, instead of I AM. Religion says he is waiting for us to run the race to meet us at the finish line, instead of entering into our daily existence, running alongside us in abundant life now.
I was so thankful when 20 some years ago, I was exposed to Kingdom Now theology which broadened my understanding of a God who was participatory, available and interested. Over the last 10 years even larger sections of God’s people have entered into the Kingdom of God emphasis of “on earth as in heaven” (blessing, healing, deliverance, prosperity ) as relevant and available for today, but I still see that old time religion spirit that tries to place God’s power in the future-creating distance and delay. It’s subtly wedged into the charismatic and evangelical experience, almost everywhere I go. The prophetic words on Elijah’s list seem to be on a continuous loop of “what God is about to do”, (but never does) instead of what he has done and is doing. It seems like every conference is preparing the believer for the revival that is coming, instead of the resurrection life available now. Teachers promote (CD/DVD) their latest revelation on getting to the next level instead of our position of sitting with Christ in heavenly places (what level is higher than that?). Many believers are always getting ready but never entering in to the kingdom, because they believe their blessing and ministry and abundant life is in the future. It can begin NOW.
When the sister of Lazarus (Jesus’ friend who was dead) said “ I know my brother will rise in the resurrection” someday in the future, Jesus said “I AM the resurrection, NOW, not in the future. He demonstrated his kingdom was not limited to Chronos time, but was in fact Kairos time.
A miraculous life, a blessed life is a Now life. Any and every situation can be a Kairos (opportune, qualitative) moment. What we sometimes consider as detours, pit stops, transitions or something we have to push through in our lives are actually opportunities to experience the kingdom Now. Jesus taught the kingdom is now in John 4 (woman at the well). Samaria is not a pit stop, it is part of the kingdom. The disciples didn’t want to go to Samaria, they perceived it with racial and religious prejudice and a delay on their way to the place where the kingdom was to be established. What is your Samaria, the place or thing you think is keeping you from experiencing the kingdom? Is it money, marriage, health, conflict? It could be he wants to reveal his kingdom there. The deepest question on the disciples mind (Matt. 24) was “WHEN are you going to come into your kingdom”?, assuming a future date. They didn’t understand that Jesus was demonstrating how it worked NOW (the kingdom is like a seed) by planting the kingdom in the woman at the well. Many are still asking the same question today, “When will Christ return in his kingdom power”? And they are missing the kingdom that is operating now.
In John 4:35 after ministering the kingdom to the woman at the well Jesus says to his disciples, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” – Rabbi Jesus is teaching his disciples, that the one seed he planted in Samaria will result in a harvest and that one seed means his kingdom is Now, even in Samaria.
Samaria doesn’t seem like it should be part of your journey. Jesus saw the harvest in Samaria ( his disciple Philip later was a major part of bringing in the harvest) by faith because of his absolute confidence in the seed planted in that one woman. In the parables, the kingdom is represented as a seed over and over and if a seed is planted, there will be growth and harvest. He is satisfied with just planting the seed without even seeing the harvest and he is asking his disciples to see the kingdom the same way. When you pray, when you are kind and loving, when you give, when you serve, you are planting a seed that will have a harvest, even if you never see it.
The woman at the well is commonly used as an example of how to evangelize, but the larger context is that Jesus purposed to go through Samaria to continue teaching his disciples on the kingdom. He was on his way back to Galilee from Judea and went to Samaria in response to a confrontation with the religious leaders who were quantifying his ministry and popularity. In Samaria he broke down every social, religious and political barrier by talking to a woman and a non-jew with a sketchy past and present. He goes to the woman who was drawing from Jacob’s well in Samaria (the past) and who was looking forward to Messiah ( the future), and revealed he and the kingdom is NOW. He was so confident in the seed, the ground it was planted in didn’t matter. He was demonstrating to his disciples and the religious people that God’s kingdom grew wherever the seed was planted. It didn’t even require the fertile soil of Israel or even morality. He demonstrated that in his kingdom, he has a plan even for the people that the religious (or even you and I) don’t necessarily approve of, understand or like. The seed works regardless. She dropped the water pots ( her past) and was refreshed by the living water, Jesus who Jacob’s well was pointing to for all those years.
Why does God seem closer, more present when we are in trouble? He is a very present ( NOW) help in time of need. Conflict, trouble, lack can be a kingdom NOW moment, not a pause on the way to the kingdom. If you perceive your divorce, bankruptcy, sickness, addiction as a kingdom Now moment, you will plant a seed in that Samaria, rather than go around it or wait for the future or the circumstances to change. Jesus wants to be present with his kingdom in that place, even if others don’t get it. Then God will give the increase and the kingdom see will produce a harvest. Will you trust the seed to do its job, even if you don’t see the harvest?