A lot of people have been thinking about the coming of Christ this week and that is a good thing. One preacher that I deeply respect described our time as believers on this earth as the “already but not yet” experience in that God is bringing his Kingdom into being through each and every one of us. The fullness of his ultimate Kingdom, however, has not happened yet. While we are all to be about kingdom business on a daily basis, there is also a natural longing for the day when “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” as it says in Revelation 21:4
As a person who loves to read and has seen the power of the printed page impact peoples lives deeply for the kingdom, this is an interesting time to be alive and see how God is using so many different means to draw people to himself. I was on the train to Center City Philadelphia this week and noticed an incredible number of people reading in various ways – some were using laptops, some were reading physical books, some were using IPads, some were using e-book readers and some were actually reading on their phones. Though the majority were still reading “real” books, many were not. Interestingly, almost everyone was reading something. Very few people were simply watching the scenery go by or even having a chat with their neighbor. While this was a particular moment in time, I have a sneaking suspicion that more people are actually reading these days which is a good thing.
I also got to spend some time our our store in downtown Philadelphia and was once again struck by the value of a physical place for the advancement of the kingdom. Though we operate retail stores, they are so much more than that. They are:
- A place that provides safety and refuge from the daily struggles that many face
- A place that offers a wide variety of options for parents to help their children read, grow and learn about their faith.
- A place that creates an environment where a person can feel safe to ask difficult questions and get answers.
- A place that offers a listening ear, a caring heart and a praying spirit.
- A place that stocks a great selection of resources to answer the hardest challenges from divorce to suicide.
- A place that acts as a referral source to resource providers like pregnancy counseling centers and addiction recovery programs
- A place that functions as a connecting point for the local church and a clearing house for information about the local Christian community including helping people find a church home.
I too long for the day when Christ will return. In the meantime I will rejoice in the miracle I see as people grasp that power of the Gospel to change their lives in the here and now. So often God chooses to use the words in the books that are written by His dedicated servants. These authors must be thrilled to see their words impacting people in so many new ways and through so many different devices. While the world may be changing faster than some us may like, one thing is still a constant – God is still on the move and His Kingdom is advancing. Oh for that glorious day when we get to experience the new Heaven and the new Earth, what a Kingdom that will be.