NI's old enemies must start listening to Jesus
It is interesting that in the four New Testament Gospel records, Jesus talks on four occasions about "the church", but on more than 100 occasions he talks about "the kingdom of God/the kingdom of heaven".
From this, it is clear the dominant theme of his ministry was the in-breaking of the reign or rule of God throughout the universe. His first words at the start of his public ministry in Galilee were: "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the Gospel."
Here, Jesus proclaimed the new thing that was happening: he had come to inaugurate the new kingdom of God, starting with Galilee and extending to Jerusalem and beyond.
Besides, Jesus was to encourage his followers: "When you pray, say, 'Father in heaven... your kingdom come'."
In Jesus, God was doing a new thing. His love and rule were spreading throughout the world. The Messianic Age was here. At the heart of this dawning age was a key element - the transforming kingdom of God.
People's lives would be changed. They would experience God's love revealed in Jesus. They would know that this love was trustworthy and true. They would seek to respond. They would come to realise the kingdom of God was their most precious gift, their greatest treasure. Jesus described it as a priceless, incomparable treasure, as something at first inconspicuous, but later as of greatest significance.
Jesus told people that the kingdom of God was the greatest of all things a person could possess. Later, he underlined this point to his hearers. He said: "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all things will be added unto you".And so, what is the meaning and significance of the kingdom of God in 2017?
It's about the reign and rule of God in our lives today. It's about you and me hearing the proclamation of Jesus: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." Then, the response: "Repent and believe the Gospel".
Being specific, the time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand here in Northern Ireland.
We need to repent of the failure of both sides here to get along. We need to expose the lie that it's difficult for people who are different to show love and friendship to each other.
Jesus taught, love your neighbour and love your enemy. Not just that, on Good Friday, he showed love for those who beat him, and he forgave the soldiers who crucified him.
It is high time old enemies listened to Jesus, the proclaimer of the Messianic Age, and repent and believe his Gospel.