Q & R: Kingdom – here, there, near, far?

Here’s the Q:

What I am writing to you about is we have really been wrestling all year long with our Sr. High group about the Kingdom of God/Heaven and the plan is to talk about this in some manner on Youth Sunday, but we are really struggling wrapping our minds around it. Every time I feel that I understand it, I try and explain it to them and we find ourselves wandering together for understanding. We have watched several of your Youtube videos together and talked about some of the things you have said in your books, but we are still trying to get a better understanding together.
Jesus says, “Repent for the Kingdom of God has come near.” I get that he wants us to rethink everything… that we need to look at everyone and everything differently… I guess for me one of the things where I struggle the most is that word, “near”. Was it near because Jesus was beginning his ministry? Was it near because Jesus was about to call followers who would be a part of his mission to the world? I realize that it is still out in front of us, but are we any nearer to it? We still see the hungry, the poor, the lost, and the lonely… are we nearer today or further away?
When I think of the Kingdom, I think that anywhere the Will of God is being done, there is the Kingdom. When I think of the Kingdom, I think we see bits and pieces of it all around us, but the question remains are we any closer to what Jesus was speaking about or are we destined to simply catch glimpses here and there?
Any thoughts or direction you might be able to give… I am beginning to think that we just might have bit off more than we can chew.

Here’s the R:
You’re doing a fantastic job to get your young adults grappling with this, the center of Jesus’ message and mission! Of course it’s “more than you can chew” – because the message is a mystery, good news of unfathomable depth and width and height. If your students came out of this feeling they had Jesus and his message all figured out, you would have done them a great disservice. I think all your questions and hunches are excellent … Two quick thoughts.
1. The Kingdom is at hand but not in hand, within reach but not fully grasped, available to all but not enjoyed by all. It’s not that it’s partially given … it’s that it’s fully given but not fully received.
2. Have we made progress in receiving it? Of course. But as we have, our challenges have also grown … Every end is a new beginning; every breakthrough is a new birth; every step forward out of yesterday’s injustice puts us in new territory with new possibilities of injustice and justice.
At least that’s how I see it. Keep up the great work with your young disciples!
I hope that on Youth Sunday you can communicate the joy of what you have learned about God’s commonwealth/dream/dance/ecosystem … and I also hope you can communicate the wonder of what you still feel is beyond you. Joy and wonder, it seems to me, are reasonable response to Jesus and his message.