The reality in which we live as Christians is that the Kingdom of God has already been established on earth but has not yet been established in its fullness. The only way Jesus’ life on earth makes any sense is if He came inaugurate His Kingdom, an entirely new way of doing things which even His disciples didn’t fully grasp. The only way Jesus’ death and resurrection make any sense is if they were the decisive acts in human history in which the kingdom of sin, death, and the devil were once for all defeated and a new kingdom was established. The only way Jesus’ ascension makes any sense is if He is with God the Father reigning over an actual kingdom in which all believers participate. The Kingdom of God is here. The church is its visible presence on earth until that day when Jesus comes again; that day for which we as kingdom people long.
If this is the reality to which we are called into by the Spirit of God, how ought we to live? Should our lives not look radically different as a result of us being partners in Jesus’ kingdom? Peter gives us a hint when he says, “what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness…” Holiness and godliness are words thrown around often negatively, in connection with a rigid legalism or as a target of criticism of the hypocritical church that can’t live up to its own standards. While we can’t live a holy and godly life in our own power, it is nonetheless the ideal God has had for His people for thousands of years.
Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is continually being called to be holy; to be the people God formed them to be: a people of covenant and a people set apart as a city on a hill. God called Israel out of all the other nations so that they might be different, that people would look at how different their lives are because of God and desire that for themselves. The same call to holiness is extended to God’s people throughout the New Testament as well. Peter, in his first book, instructs his readers using the command from Leviticus 11:44, “Be holy as I am holy.” Later, he says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
In being a people living holy and godly lives, set apart for the glory of God, we look different, we act different, and we proclaim the Gospel with our lives. The proclamation of the Gospel through our actions and words is central to hastening of the coming of the day of the Lord. Jesus declares in Matthew, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (24:14). And Peter expands this by saying, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s desire is that all people would have the opportunity to hear the Gospel, to have their hearts pierced by it bearing repentance and life in Jesus. Until the Gospel has been proclaimed to all, giving all an opportunity to have their hearts transformed by it, Jesus will not come.
So, how do we hasten the day of the coming of the Lord? By being a Gospel people, living and proclaiming that the Kingdom has come in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and by pointing to the hope that is ours when Jesus comes again ushering in the fulfillment of His Kingdom in the new heavens and new earth.