Matthew 4:23:  From there he went all over Galilee. He used synagogues for meeting places and taught people the truth of God. God’s kingdom was his theme—that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives.

Author and USC professor Dallas Willard teaches that this verse, Matt 4:23, sums up the core message of the Christ: The Kingdom has arrived, and anyone who accepts the present authority established among us by Jesus may enter that Kingdom. Yes! Walk right in!  

The Holy Spirt of God was released uniquely into the World with the arrival of Jesus. More so however, is that a new spiritual order was established on the earth: an invisible Kingdom of Light and Life!  

So why aren’t people breaking down the doors, literally falling over one another, like the mad rush into an early morning Walmart sale? This Kingdom is a beachhead established in a fallen, dark world. This Kingdom is spreading further, pushing against the darkness. A spiritual battle rages now in the world because the world is openly hostile to the Kingdom.  

The darkness is so deep and powerful that most people in the world are unconscious of the reality of either a loving and patient God, or the reality of evil and sin. They are blinded and unaware of the spiritual forces at war around them. They do not see that they are the intended spoils of that battle. These “lost people” are the persons Jesus directed us to reach with the “Good News.” But first, people must recognize the need for the “Good News” by coming to grips with the reality of sin: the brokenness of the human condition caused by evil and sin.  

People do not want to hear that they may need God because they are sinners. That message has never sold well to a world in denial or rebellion. Other ideas are foreign or even repugnant to the modern citizen of western culture: “submission” and “obedience.” These things sound like a relinquishment of freedom to the modern ear.  

This Kingdom is the government of God living in us. Citizens of this Kingdom are those who place themselves under the authority of the King, the Christ. How so? A believer is a citizen of the Kingdom when he also becomes a follower of the King–that is, a servant of the King, and subject to His government. But this King is not a tyrant, and his laws are not oppressive. He is kind and gentle of heart, and his government is the Golden Rule of Love.  

In the Gospel of John, Jesus states that people will be able to identify who are His followers: by the love they have for one another. You will know them by how they offer themselves and their gifts for Kingdom purposes. Free to serve. This freedom turns the idea of “servant” or “slave” up side down. Real freedom comes from service given willingly in gratitude to a King who loves us.  

It is truly miraculous that any of us born into this present age enter into the Kingdom when so much in the world is aligned to prevent that choice and transformation. When Jesus’ disciples questioned how anyone enters the Kingdom, He responded that it was humanly impossible, but with God, all things are possible. In the 4th chapter of Ephesians, Paul too states that we don’t enter the Kingdom by any effort or power we bring to the situation. We enter entirely by the grace (unmerited gift) of God.  

That is what Dallas Willard means when he teaches that the door is open and the invitation freely extended. We are to walk right in. But we enter only by accepting the reality of our need for a loving God. Everyday, we again commit to living not for ourselves, but for the King we serve. May it be.