Matthew 10:7 As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
As you listen, do you hear people proclaiming the kingdom of God is near? I can sometimes hear something that sounds like that, but it sounds more like the end of the world and usually seems to have something to do with y2k. And there is someone who is usually willing to sell you something that will help you get through. The funny thing is that this is a growth industry, and there are some people who are making rather a lot of money at this. While there is nothing wrong with making money, there is something wrong with profiting off of others fears. And while this may sound like end of the world talk – it is not, the kingdom of God is near.
So, what about y2k? Well, there are some computer problems, and it may cost something to fix these problems, and it may affect you even if you don’t have a computer, as it can also affect microwaves and vcr’s. There may be some power outages, and the government is recommending that you have a couple weeks groceries on hand, just in case something actually does happen – but not much more than the standard precautions of being prepared for a blizzard in the midst of winter. The thing is that people are listening to this warning and they are getting prepared.
And that makes me jealous – for y2k has little to do with the kingdom of God being near, and all the preparations are focused on the needs of the body, and little thought is given for the care of the soul. I guess that’s nothing new either – we seem to be living in an age that is obsesses with care of the body – while the soul withers and dies from neglect and spiritual starvation. Have you noticed people who exercise religiously, and who watch what they eat religiously – but have little or no time for God in their lives? Even with good diet and exercise, we will all die – though doctors can replace failing joints – they cannot extend life – because the days of our lives have already been determined and allotted by God. There is no fountain of youth, and no one – by their own work, will live forever. Because we all sin, we will all die – which is why our hope is not for this world, but for the world to come – and our hope looks to the resurrection of the dead in Jesus Christ.
You see, that is what our text means, about proclaiming the good news – the kingdom of God is near. While the end of the world is not good news – the kingdom of God is good news – it is good news because God cares, and God provides. It is good news – not because it tells us what we must do to be saved, but it is good news because it tells us what God has already done, that we might have not only our daily bread – but that we might have everything we need, including forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
Why is the world obsessed by health? It fears death. But we have the promise that God will be with us not only through y2k, but through the valley of the shadow of death. And we know that there is a resurrection of the dead, and we hope in the eternal life that is our through the forgiveness of sins that comes in Jesus Christ. The world is harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, and so it is that God has sent us out to gather the lost sheep, and to bring them to Jesus. We aren’t sent out to sell anything, we are sent out to give what God in Christ has given us, and that is an amazing thing. For if I have a dollar and give it away, I don’t get more – but when we give the love of God in Jesus Christ, and when we give forgiveness of sins – we don’t have less, but we have more. And this is the joyous calling that we have been given in Christ – surely there is opportunity to share this good news, and certainly there is need – may God bless our hand, out feet and our voices, as we go forth with this good news of salvation.