This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Lagos, Nigeria, in support of a United Youth Corps project. The group of volunteers I was with wanted desperately to experience Lagos, so we decided to head outside of the walls of our hotel one morning and trek around the city. As we walked among the sights and the sounds of Africa’s most populated city, we ran across this young family living underneath a flyover (overpass). The mother was disabled and bound to a wheelchair, the father sitting on the concrete at her side, and standing a short distance from the mother was a beautiful young girl, all of 16 months. Her clothes were dirty from living on the streets, and she was gnawing on a black plastic garbage bag—not unlike the numerous black plastic bags that were floating around like tumbleweeds under the flyover.
Can you imagine an end to sickness, disease, mental illness and the issues that spring from them? Can you imagine a world without sin—without spiritual sickness? That is the Kingdom that is promised.
In our time in Lagos, we saw people who had much and people who had little. We interacted with many generous folks—one man and his family invited me and one of my traveling partners to partake in their breakfast of yam as we walked—and with many who hoped we'd give them something. We saw children and young people with joyful attitudes, and were welcomed warmly by so many others.
Now, I understand that every country is home to families who are less well-off. The United States is not immune. I see homelessness and poverty in my own hometown of Salem, Oregon, all the time.
But I think I needed to be shocked out of my complacency a bit to truly see it. And while Christ Himself told His disciples in Mark 14:7 that the poor will always be with us, this felt different somehow. That little girl under the flyover in Lagos struck me to my core.
I had to wonder to myself: What did her future hold? Where would she be in five, 10 or 15 years?
I came to recognize in that moment how absolutely crucial the Kingdom of God truly is. Not just for Nigeria, not just for Africa, but for the entire world. Academically, I understood it before, but now I felt it viscerally. Money can't ultimately fix the problem, a different politician can't fix the problem—the only true, lasting, long-term solution to the problems and difficulties of this world is the return of Jesus Christ.
The beginning of the Kingdom of God—starting with the 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ—is a time of incredible restoration and healing. At Christ’s return, the kingdoms of this world become the Father's, and He grants the authority to rule to His Son, ending governmental corruption and tyranny forever (Revelation 11:15). Satan, the adversary, will be bound for 1,000 years, removing his influence on the people of Earth (Revelation 20:1-3). The desert and the parched lands will be healed (Isaiah 35:1-2). Prosperity and abundance will be the norm (Amos 9:13-15).
The book of Isaiah records the beauty of this coming Kingdom of God in Isaiah 65:17-23:
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.”
It’s not just large scale healing of the land, of governments and principalities that will take place. God will heal the people of this world physically, mentally and spiritually. They will live good long lives free of illness and filled with prosperity. They will get to enjoy the blessings of seeing their children grow up and have children of their own. God promises this opportunity in His Kingdom.
The blind will receive sight, the deaf will receive their hearing, and the lame man will leap like a deer (Isaiah 35:5-7).
Considering the condition of the world around us today, can you imagine an end to sickness, disease, mental illness and the issues that spring from them? Can you imagine a world without sin—without spiritual sickness? That is the Kingdom that is promised.
God is going to take the world as we know it and fix the problems that exist due to Satan's influence. Never again will children die of malnutrition and poverty; never again will diseases destroy whole generations of people; never again will materialism and greed affect the poor; never again will people suffer from mental illness, abuse, or any of the myriad of issues that face people worldwide because of living contrary to God’s way.
The gospel message of Jesus Christ, discussed in Mark 1:14-15, consists of the knowledge of this coming Kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” The purpose of Christ's first coming was to preach the good news of this coming Kingdom and to give his life for the forgiveness of our sins. In doing so, He gave us the opportunity to repent and be a part of that Kingdom. At Christ's second coming, the healing of this incredibly sick world begins.
That is the good news of Jesus Christ.
To the man I saw wheeling himself around the streets of Lagos on a skateboard because his legs were gnarled and withered from polio. That Kingdom is coming.
To the man on the street corner in Salem, Oregon, with the sign, clearly suffering from mental illness. That Kingdom is coming.
To that beautiful little girl under the flyover in Lagos. That Kingdom is coming.
To all of the people around the world who are sick, who are hurting and struggling. That Kingdom is coming.
Repent and believe the gospel.