What he said to the Pharisees
Before we dive into his discourse with the disciples, Jesus answered the demanding question the Pharisees put forth of when the kingdom of God should come (Luke 17:20). This was not a question from earnest hearts, but one meant to ensnare and defame Christ. However, what Christ would tell them in one verse would shake the common perception of the day. He let them know that it was not a kingdom of physical substance but one of spiritual empowerment within those who receive it (v. 21). Most at the time believed God's Kingdom would be a physical revival of the Kingdom of Israel and the wiping away of the Roman Empire. However, Christ was saying that the Kingdom of God was going to be more than bricks and mortar. It was going to be God housing himself in us.
It's easy to get locked into what we are trying to build in our lives as individuals and the Body of Christ. However, we cannot get so caught up in developing things for down here-even if they assist God's Kingdom-that we lose sight of what God's Kingdom truly is. God's Kingdom is His presence filling our hearts and inspiring us to spread the gospel to the whole earth. To get so locked into the physical blessings down here while not pursuing the spiritual blessings God has for us is to miss the true identity and purpose of God's Kingdom. As we'll see later, it will also cause us to miss out on an important benefit of losing our life for God
Going Deeper With His Disciples
Christ turned then to his disciples and began to expand on this idea of the Kingdom of God coming. He let them know that the task of bringing the Kingdom to others would face great opposition (v.22-23). Things wouldn't always be easy and people would fight and reject them just as they did Christ (v. 25). The world would ignore them and go on living the way they thought best. This was nothing new, Christ informed them. It happened in the days of Noah and the days of Lot (v.26, 28). However, they were to press forward to the mark and continue in their labor for souls because one day the world would face what those in the days of Noah and Lot faced (v.27, 29). True to that word, within the disciples lifetime, they would watch as Jerusalem would be sacked by the Romans and the Jews driven from their homeland. However, Christ would not be revealed in that day (v.30). Does this mean that Christ lied? We need to look forward to today to find our answer.
An Ongoing Struggle
Today, we still struggle and fight against the wave of immorality and complacency that permeates the world. The battle for souls still rages on because their are still souls to be won. We are opposed on all fronts and may even find ourselves driven from the footholds we've established within our communities. However, we must press forward with our calling and purpose even in the face of loss to ourselves personally and the church collectively. Someone is out there that will receive the Kingdom of God just as we did. God, in his infinite mercy, is holding back the wave of wrath to come so we might have space to reach for one more soul.
A Preservation For Your Labor
In the face of the Roman Empire and multiple other enemies, the disciples took the message of Christ in Luke 17 to heart and established the church. They looked for his glorious appearing just as we look for it today. While they did not see Christ return back then, they marched on and took the world by storm because they had the Kingdom of God within them. They also had this familiar message to urge them through the rejections and opposition:
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. (Luke 17:33)
Here Christ uses the word preserve instead of find (Matthew 10:39) or save (Mark 8:35). It's interesting that Christ changes what will happen to our lives when we lose them for His cause. In our first lesson, we found our purpose to be a laborer. In our second lesson we saved ourselves from getting caught up in a worldly mindset and attaining the mind of Christ. Now, we discover that by losing our lives for Christ, we'll be preserved through all the struggle and the opposition we face. What a promise! That through our struggle to bring the Kingdom to others before Christ returns, we shall be preserved by God. We may face persecution. We may be fought on all sides. However, Christ will preserve us with his infinite blessings of the Spirit. Comfort, love, mercy, grace, peace, longsuffering, joy and so much more will be sent our way when we sell out for God and do the hard work of the laborer. The field will not always be easy, but the yoke God gives us is. It's buoyed by all the benefits of His Kingdom living inside of us. With that on our sides, we can be like the first generation of the church and take the world by storm.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.