It is inspiring to see Paul, a persecutor of Jesus’ followers, openly proclaim the gospel of God’s kingdom, a kingdom Jesus inaugurated and which awaits fullness when Jesus will return. The Garden became a wilderness when Adam and Eve separated from the life of God; but when the Word became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, he united us once again with God. The kingdom of God is not about keeping rituals rather ‘righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit’ (Rom.14:17). The future fulfilment of the kingdom determines our lifestyle in the here and now. What then led to a change in the life of Paul?
Paul was stunned at Jesus’ vision, for he believed the followers of Jesus Christ were not keeping the law’s requirements. Little did Paul realise that the followers of Christ have a renewed heart and a new Spirit (Ezekiel. 36:26-27); they do not win God’s approval by following the path of prohibitions. Jesus empowers and imparts freedom to choose right. As you cling to Jesus, you exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5: 22-23) marked by love, as Jesus loved.
Jesus came to seek and save people from the slavery of evil. We become part of Jesus’s story of God’s kingdom, which requires us to be the salt and light of the earth. The new lifestyle is not anti-materialistic, dealing only with a life of inward contemplation, rather an advocacy against the evils in the society in a non-violent way.
Kingdom vision is based on repentance and receiving forgiveness of sins by God’s grace and extending forgiveness to others. Jesus put to death the hostility that divides humanity, and we must bring down the dividing walls of caste, race, ethnicity, and economics that divide our one humanity. The door to God’s blessings in Jesus is open to all humanity, who joyfully accept His invitation. They are welcomed as children of God. A renewed heart shares the resources of God’s earth for the flourishing of human life.