Christians live in the time/space of two overlapping kingdoms; the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God. We experience both at the same time. This is expressed in the words of Jesus…
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Jesus says His people will have tribulation and peace, not one after the other but both at the same time. This means that the peace He gives is not freedom from trouble or conflict. Nor is it an escape from lies, persecution or mistreatment, or being misunderstood. Instead, it is a joy of heart that rises above these things and carries us to a bliss that is unknown to those who do not know Him.
We live in these two kingdoms, two worlds, where one is filled with distraction, cares, deprivations, and miseries and the other realm where tears are wiped away and there is no more death, sorrow and pain. In this second place, we know the presence of God, our Father who loves us unconditionally and whose peace transcends all understanding. We know the Holy Spirit who grants to us love, joy and peace, no matter what that first world is doing to us.
In my personal history, the overlap began with my salvation, but in actual history it began with the cross and resurrection. Jesus came, lived and died, then conquered death and brought into this world the option of eternal life. All who embrace that option are ushered into the kingdom of light where we begin to learn what it means to be “seated in heavenly places” and fully reconciled to God. We discover His amazing peace, amazing because it is so rich it cannot help but overflow from His glorious kingdom into that other one that is not so glorious.
I woke up this morning singing, “Glorify Thy name, glorify Thy name, glorify Thy name in all the earth…” thankful to be alive and thankful that even here, where wickedness seems to prevail over righteousness and justice, the power of God can still bring the delights of heaven to my heart. He gives me rest from spiritual battles and rest from my work. I know wars in my soul, but also respite from those wars and the delights of being satisfied. I know trouble and sorrow, but also “peace that surpasses understanding” and the unending joy of Jesus Christ.
Most of all, I know freedom from fear, that I will not face the wrath of God because of the loving sacrifice of His Son. Whatever else this world might stir up in the form of tribulation loses its sting because Jesus overcame it all by dying for my sin and giving me eternal life.
He has delivered (me) from the domain of darkness and transferred (me) to the kingdom of his beloved Son. (Colossians 1:13)For in this way there will be richly provided for (me) an entrance into the eternal kingdom of (my) Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:11)
One day, I will take flight from the kingdom of this world and not miss it at all, and that is the reason that I sing...!