The end of WWII in Europe was a scene both devastating and marvelous. Amidst the rubble of cities and bombed-out craters that once contained the bustle of civilization, cheers mixed with tears to welcome the Allied forces who had dropped the bombs. Those same Allies had toppled the power of tyranny, then arrived to replace it with freedom.
I love those historic accounts. Something within us wants to leap and shout when captives get set free. In Luke 4, a local boy returned home and caused a clamor among residents of his village. He had begun to do miraculous signs, speak life-changing words and collect an ever-larger group of passionate followers. The leaders of his local synagogue invited him to a place of honor, having him read something from the old prophets. He took a scroll from Isaiah, unrolled it and began to read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord ’s favor has come. ” (Luke 4:18, 19 NLT)
"Good news! Captives to be released! Blind people will see! The oppressed will be set free! It's the time of God's favor!" Everywhere Jesus went, His actions demonstrated the power of those words. He declared AND demonstrated what He called "God's kingdom."
As powerful as was 1945's destruction of the kingdom of tyranny by the kingdom of freedom, it pales to what happens when the kingdom of God arrives in a human heart. Free societies are often choked with hearts held captive by forces too great for any human military to conquer them. No amount of political representation nor equal justice nor establishment of human rights can truly free such oppressed souls. One can breathe free air, enjoy a life filled with creature comforts and move about in limitless directions, yet be bound with hurts, habits and hangups that suck every drop of joy out of every moment. Only Jesus can conquer that kingdom!
The amazing thing is that Jesus offers to not only set up God's kingdom in our hearts, but to include us in His declaration and demonstration of the kingdom to those who are still captive. Advancing the kingdom is the most rewarding lifestyle on the planet and Jesus calls us to join Him in doing it!