taking the words of Jesus seriously

The church today is enthralled in a movement that believes in a commitment to create a just and loving society in which we can fully actualize the Kingdom of God before the Second Coming of Christ.  The Kingdom, as described in Scripture (a good example is Isaiah 65:17ff), has to be something that we all press for in our commitment to be followers of Jesus.  He came to establish a Kingdom.  He said so.

Check it out.  Almost the first words out of His mouth in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is His announcement that He had come to declare that the Kingdom of God was at hand.  He taught His disciples to pray for the Kingdom and He asked them to pray for it to come “on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Having said all that, we know that we cannot complete the job.  That’s what keeps us from being the old-time social gospelers like Walter Rauschenbusch and Sharon Matthews.  They were people who thought that through the efforts of Christians the world could be completely transformed into the kind of world that God wanted it to be.  Their naivety was destroyed with the coming of the First World War.  They had assumed that there was progress in human nature, but World War I and the horrors of it convinced them, once and for all, that humanity was not evolving into a better state, but that the same ugly tendencies that had created havoc in the past were just as alive and well in the hearts and minds of modern men and women.

All Christians must strive to create the Kingdom of God here on earth, even as those old social gospelers did, but with one ultimately important caveat.  We don’t believe that we can complete the job.  As it says in Philippians, “The God who has initiated a good work in us and through us will complete it on the day of His coming” (Phil. 1:6).

In striving to create the Kingdom of God here on earth one of our biggest struggles is fear. Fear of failing, fear of looking like a fool, fear of family and friends. The writers of the Bible were afraid as well. Because of this, fear is one of the most frequently addressed topics throughout the Bible.

The words “fear not” appear 365 times in the Bible.  That’s once for every day of the year.  Faith overcomes worry with hope.  In Philippians 4:6, we are told to cast all our worries upon Christ and be anxious for nothing.  The devil wants us to worry.  Christ wants us to trust in Him.

In the end, we press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Philippians 3:13-14), but we know we will never be able to complete the job without the intervention of God through the Second Coming of Christ.  The Christian anticipation and life is rooted in the belief that Jesus is coming again in physical form because He said so. We do not, however, know the date. . .Praise God!

About The Author


Tony Campolo is Professor of Sociology at Eastern University, and was formerly on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. For 40 years, he founded and led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, an organization that created and supported programs serving needy communities in the Third World as well as in “at risk” neighborhoods across North America. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for the Red Letter Christians movement. He blogs regularly at his own website. Tony and his wife Peggy live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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