Seeing the world through a theological lens...
Luke 17: 20-21 Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
Finally! Here it is spelled out in black and white! (Or red, if you have one of those cool Bibles with the words of Jesus typed in vivid color.) The answer to the question that burns in everyone's heart, is on everyone's mind, in everyone's hopes for a better, brighter future... WHEN??? In the words of the Psalmist, How long oh Lord? When will you intervene? When will it be 'on earth as it is in heaven?' When will your kingdom come?
These are fair questions. We are tired of missing the mark. Even the Pharisees among us suffer at our inability to keep the simplest of commandments. It causes believers great pain to know that we've fallen short of loving our neighbor as our self; that we haven't really taken care of the least of these. We balk at the strength of our own ego. We shudder at the lengths we take toward self preservation and advancement.
And our shortcomings fly in our face every time we pray, every time we pause to think about God's grace, or look at the world through the eyes of selfless compassion. How long oh Lord? When will you intervene; come down from heaven with lightning-bolt-irresistible-power and change our hearts and minds? When will we be so bowled over by the proof that you exist that we will have no choice but to give up all else and follow your plan for us? When Lord, will you bring about peace, so that we can finally be happy?
So, If Jesus Is Messiah, as these Pharisees infer even in their asking him such a question, then he must know when the suffering will end. It's a fair question.
Jesus turns to them in a way reminiscent of a scene right out of Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz- Glinda turns to forlorn Dorothy, desperate to find her way home, and points to the ruby slippers on the girl's feet. "You've always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself."
The kingdom of God is within us. God has given us the ruby slippers. Every power, every tool, every ability to bring about everlasting peace... on earth. Jesus calls our 'ruby slippers,' the keys to the kingdom. But like Dorothy, we don't notice or have never been taught about the great power at our disposal. We have been told instead that we are broken sinners, that we cannot attain God's will for us, can not even keep the commandments much less do anything else toward shalom.
We have Internalized the ideology that we are weak, and Christ is strong- that we can do nothing on our own. While that is true- we leave out one obvious fact: Christ in us! We are not weak since we live in Christ, not powerless because Christ lives in us.
So often we are afraid to claim that power, much less tap into it. We walk around with our heads down, thinking that we must endure worldly ills until Christ comes. Christ is here! In each of us! Click your heals three times, Dorothy. Put your faith in the power within you, the power of the risen Christ. For the kingdom of God is among you!