The Kingdom of God
As a kid, one of the greatest themes of play was that of Kingdom-castles, knights, kings, maybe even a dragon or 2! This seems to be a constant through subsequent generations. My sons have quite a few Lego and Playmobil castle sets today.
You can’t escape from kingdom as you grow up-well at least not if you are a follower of Christ. One of the major themes of the Bible is Kingdom. You find it in geographic terms in the Old Testament. And as we move into the New Testament, we see that is the paradigm that Jesus is constantly battling. The Jewish people in the 1st century were hoping and expecting that the promised coming Messiah would be another King David to free the people from their foreign oppressors (Romans). We see this revealed on numerous occasions through the actions and words of the people Jesus engaged-even his own disciples! But we should not be surprised or hard on them, for that teaching was the basis of their formation and education. And so Jesus came to bring correction and truth to the misunderstanding. This was his single-minded focus. His opening words of ministry in Mark 1 are recorded as “The time has come. The Kingdom of God has come near.” On at least one occasion the crowds were ready to forcefully make Jesus king! And don’t think that the triumphal entry was all innocent fun! You can bet that some of the crowd thought that this was the moment of victory over Rome!
This kingdom is not limited to geographic boundaries. “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), Jesus said. It is not to be taken by force. It is a kingdom of love, not of dictatorship. It’s kind of comical how thick the disciples were. Even after the resurrection we see that their brains were not yet completely re-wired; After hearing Jesus’ teaching for 3 years, and seeing his ways, their thinking still had not been transformed. In Acts 1 before he ascends they are still asking Jesus the KINGDOM question: When are you going to restore David’s throne?! What they were formed with-taught as kids, was still their partial expectation. It wasn’t until the H.S. came, and transformed their minds and possessed them permanently, that the veil from their minds eye was lifted.
The kingdom of God has no physical boundaries. This is proven by the way people live under the rule of God in every corner of the earth! The kingdom of God can be ushered in and through the hearts and lives of those who submit to his rule! But that is the caveat. You cannot in your own power or strength usher in the kingdom of God or make disciples. We see this truth in the account of Simon the Sorcerer in Samaria who tries to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from the apostles (Acts 8). You only receive kingdom power when you first receive kingdom authority. And how do we get that authority? It is given by the King of the Universe. He authorizes his representatives to act on his behalf. We receive our identity as children of God from our Heavenly Father through the work of Christ. Our Heavenly Father (Covenant) is also King of the Universe (Kingdom). As such, when we become his children we become royalty and are qualified to represent Him. You do not have the power or authority to be a kingdom operative, if you do not have the relationship and identity. Kingdom work, and therefore bearing kingdom fruit, cannot be faked! If you are a child of God, you play an important role in the Kingdom of God. Live out of your identity, exercise the authority you’ve been given, and do the works of the kingdom in power. What will that look like for you this week?