Week 3 - The Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God
By Larry Prible
See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. — Isaiah 65:17, NIV
During the 1999 Jimmy Carter Work Project in the Philippines, I met Edward, a mason. He had no shoes and no gloves, and his hands and feet were dry and tight from years of handling mortar. I developed a tremendous respect for this man who worked so hard. I was a crew leader, which meant I got to wear a red hat. Edward deserved it more than I did, so I gave it to him.
As the week went on, I suggested to Edward that maybe someday he could move into a Habitat home. He just shook his head and said, “Oh, no. It’s only a dream.” What do you say to someone who lives in such horrendous conditions, who can’t even allow himself to dream of something better?
Job said, “If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness, ... where then is my hope?” That question weighed on my heart for several days. But God led me to the good news, His promise of a new earth and the eternal reign of Christ in Isaiah 65 when all things are made right.
Be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.
They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat. — Isaiah 65:18-19, 21-22, NIV
You see, Edward, there is a home for you! You can have hope! Because our God wants to transform the world!
God has a dream for Edward, for the Philippines and for the world. Jesus called that vision the kingdom of God, and you and I have important roles to play as part of that kingdom here on Earth. During this Lenten season, may we focus on helping others to see the world that Jesus saw for us. May we help those we encounter see themselves as precious, as valuable and worth seeking out. Let us share the message that, through Christ, each person is brave, strong, known and loved.
The kingdom of God will not be actualized in its fullness until Jesus comes again. But between now and then, we can create a glimmer of that heavenly kingdom in our communities and throughout the world. Certainly through Habitat, we can help millions of people be delivered from poverty. They will be able to hope and can build a better future.
Jesus, thank You for the hope of heaven. We celebrate the fact that You are alive and that Your kingdom has begun. Help us to live in the light of the glory to come. Fill us with Your hope for the world and empower us to carry out Your plans for us. We love You, Jesus. Amen.
Do you have hope for what God has for you and for this world?
Does the passage from Isaiah 65 help you see your part in the kingdom of God and Habitat’s role in it? How?
What causes us to think so little about heaven? (Suggested reading: Heaven by Randy Alcorn)
Larry Prible is a former member of the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity International. He also chaired the U.S. Council and served on the board’s executive committee.
Rather than emphasizing what you will “give up” for Lent, focus on positive actions you can take to demonstrate the extraordinary love of Jesus.