December 14, 2014 - The Gift that Keeps on Giving

December 14, 2014 - The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Jon Twitchell

Hebrews 12:18-29

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful,
and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

- Hebrews 12:28-29

Often, the best Christmas gifts are the ones that keep on giving - a magazine subscription, a monthly batch of cookies, a repeated household chore. Instead of being received once, these gifts are received continuously throughout the following year. For a gift like this, we would not say, "I received the gift." Nor would we say, "I'm going to receive the gift." Instead, we would say, "I am receiving the gift."

This is called the "present progressive" tense, and you don't have to be a grammarian to understand that this refers to something that is presently happening and continuing into the future. It's the verb tense that the writer of Hebrews uses in verse 28, when he writes: “we are receiving."

The writer is clear: it’s not that we received the Kingdom sometime in the past. Nor is it that we are simply marking time until some point in the future when we will receive the Kingdom. Nor even is it a one-time instantaneous moment in the present when we receive the Kingdom.

We are receiving the Kingdom. Today. In these moments. But also in the moments to come.

This offers a couple of significant correctives for the Christian life: 1) we are not simply to sit around and mark time waiting for the Kingdom to come; 2) nor should we assume that we’ve received all there is, and there is nothing more to come. Instead, we experience the Kingdom of God in ever-increasing measures. We live into our calling as subjects in the Kingdom.

To put it in other words, we don’t wait for the Kingdom of God the same way that we wait for December 25th to arrive. It is not a moment of time in the distant future. Neither is it a moment in the past. Instead, it is a way of life that carries us forward into the ultimate culmination of God’s divine narrative. It is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.

The kingdom of God is justice and joy,
For Jesus restores what sin would destroy.
God’s power and glory in Jesus we know,
And here and hereafter the kingdom shall grow.

- Bryn Austin Rees