Last week we talked about The Good and Beautiful Life by James Bryan Smith. Chapter two now talks about #KingdomLiving and here’s how I shared the message to my #Deechwelb sisters :)
Now we ask ourselves again and again, how do we look at the Gospel? Because aside from the fact that is mentioned in the bible about us being love by God (John 3:16), forgiven (Hebrews 10:17) and raised to new life in Christ (Colossians 3:1), which are the essential truths of living the Christian life, there is more good news. It also includes an invitation to a great adventure; Living in the Kindgom of God. We all need this reminder everyday. The good news about entering heaven when we die has overshadowed the equally good news that we can enter heaven now.
Jesus taught about the Kingdom
What other example there is than to look at how Jesus began His ministry, cause after realizing that we are living the good life, I believe that the next step will be the overflow of God’s love through ministry. But here when we talk about ministry, it can be as small as praying for a stranger, building a relationship with a friend, or loving the unlovable, it doesn’t have to be a radical big move.
First, Matthew 4:17 Jesus proclaimed: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near” He preached this directly after his baptism. When following Jesus’ model, right after we accept His truths, we should start working for His kingdom like He did. Breaking down this verse, let’s look again at the origin of the word Repent = metanoia (Greek), which literally means “change your mind”. Sometimes we forget how loving God is, and when we hear the word repent, we immediately think this is a threat. Where we have to repent now or else, or do better or shape up. But it is actually an invitation. He is inviting us to have an interactive life with God. “Change the way you have been thinking – a life of intimacy and interaction with God is now in your midst.”
Next evidence of the importance of God’s Kingdom is how Jesus always taught about the Kingdom through the parables.
- Parable of the weed: Matthew 13:24 “The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field”
- Parable of the Mustard seed: Matthew 13:31 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed” This was also said in Mark 4:30-32, Luke 13:18-19
- Parable of Leaven: Luke 13:20-21 “And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”
If you look at it the theme here is about the Kingdom of Heaven growing from small beginnings. Like the parable of the Mustard Seed, which is one of the smallest seeds, but then grows really big. And baking bread where it starts so small but grows when you add a leavening agent and it rises.
Looking at Jesus’ teachings, it is more difficult to find one that is not about the Kingdom of God. Even after his resurrection it was said in
- Acts 1:3 “After His suffering He presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the Kingdom of God.”
He taught about the Kingdom of God over 100 times. Kingdom of God was mentioned 53 times in the new testament, mostly by Jesus. How can we have missed this?
Jesus even defines his purpose in light of the Kingdom: “I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose” Luke 4:43
Disciples taught about the Kingdom
When Jesus left, He instructed His disciples to preach about the Kingdom. Matthew 10:5-8 says “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The Kingdom of heaven has come near’. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. ” Paul in Acts 19:8 “Entered the synagogue and for 3 months spoke out boldly and argued persuasively about the Kingdom of God.” And in Acts 28:30-31 it described that for his final 2 years on earth, Paul preached about the Kingdom of God, “with all boldness and without hindrance”.
So you see, it’s not only Jesus that can preach about the Kingdom of God, but He calls us his disciples to also follow Him in teaching about the Kingdom. What a privilege and honor it is to be invited to join Him!
False Narrative: The Kingdom is in the future
But despite all these invitation from Jesus, why do you think most of us lose the Kingdom Perspective? It is because we look at it as something we only get to experience when Christ returns (end times). And most of the times, we don’t practice the principles of the Kingdom of God but instead we focus only on the “Kingdom of Angel”. We get so engrossed in our own lives, that we tend to take control of it. Which is why I think the Lord’s prayer “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” is the best reminder when we lose sight of the Kingdom perspective. As Smith said: The kingdom of God is a present reality that will be fully consummated in the future.
So How do we enter the Kingdom of God?
- Matthew 5:20 “I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven”
This verse seems a bit daunting, but bear with me as it was always emphasized by Jesus that the righteousness of the Pharisees was primarily exterior. He is very critical with them because He wants us to focus not on the outer conditions (sabbath rules, washing of hands) but rather than our interior. Our hearts. When we focus on our exteriors, our inner life has always been full of anger, lust, lying and judging other people,etc. becomes a hindrance to us fully enjoying the Kingdom of God. But when we instead focus on the important stuff, which is our inner lives, we exude integrity, gentleness, respect and mercy, etc. and we exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees.
- Mark 10:15 “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it”
Why do we always forget how Jesus was so fond of the characters of a child? When we all know the characteristics of a child is naturally loving, innocent, trusting and have little self consciousness. Children do not need to be in control. They live in total dependence, trusting that all is being done for their good and receiving everything as a gift. Believe me when I say we can be childlike but be very far from the Kingdom of God. Jesus is saying that we need the trusting disposition of a child in order to experience the fullness of the Kingdom. We need to surrender our control. The Kingdom requires submission.
- John 3:5 “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit”
Being born of the water and spirit – not only means by water baptism but is more focused on our Second birth. Our new life in Christ being born of the spirit after we surrendered our life to Jesus. We all have different experiences of coming to Christ. Sometimes we feel our experience is inferior to those of the others and so we do not work for His Kingdom. Our human nature is bombarded by lies of feeling inadequate but when we are born of the Spirit, we are led by the Spirit. In connection to the trusting disposition of a child, in Romans 8:14 it says “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” In order to enter the Kingdom of God, we must learn to surrender our lives to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The heart of the Gospel
Despite our undeserving pasts, we are all still invited to partake in His Kingdom on earth. I cannot emphasize it enough how many times Jesus reminded us that the Kingdom of God is freely given and is in the present. This amazing heaven on earth where we live a life with God is all ours to take. We just need to surrender, be humble, trust and have the willingness to be led by God. Imagine this whole community of blessed, talented people working fully for the Lord in different areas of His Kingdom. Utilizing our own God-given skills and talents for the advancement of the Kingdom. May it be as small as volunteering to help out clean up after a bible study or as big as going out to missions. Wouldn’t you wanna partake in that?
I prayed for a regular metanoia of my heart and I pray that for all of you too. Be blessed! :)
Based on the book The Good and Beautiful life: Putting on the Character of Christ by James Bryan Smith