Identity Found in God
The King and the Kingdom
The King’s People
The Kingdom on Earth
Living with the Attitude of Christ
The Kingdom on Earth
Luke 17:21…because the kingdom of God is within you.
As mentioned before, Jay and I have moved our family multiple times. While the amount of “stuff” changes each time, and each home looks different, the landscape and neighborhood is never the same, there is one thing that remains intact from place to place – our family members are the same. Thankfully, we haven’t lost any children in any of the moves! The way we live our lives, the rules and structure of our home doesn’t change. We are who we are no matter where we are. This is one way that helps me think and understand the what concept of the Kingdom of God on earth means.
When we begin to consider what the word kingdom means, we may begin with a territorial image. In worldly terms, we would say that a king’s kingdom refers to a certain region, like the King of England. Therefore, when we think of the Kingdom of God, we may automatically try to wrap our minds around a physical region, with set boundaries. We may picture the world – God’s Kingdom on earth – the continents, countries, states, grassland, and so on. We may try and picture God’s kingdom in heaven with golden streets, mansions, and flowing rivers.
But Jesus clarifies this in Luke 17:20-21. The Pharisees were asking Jesus about the Kingdom of God, “ Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Think on that a bit. The Kingdom of God, the designated space where He reigns is not “here” or “there”, it is within us! As we remain in our temporary home here on earth, God’s Kingdom has nothing to do with the region or territory on earth, but everything to do with our hearts, with our lives, with our relationships. Just as the analogy of our family above, our “kingdom” has more to do with each of us, than where we live.
As we consider being a part of God’s kingdom here on earth, what does that look like? Kings need a place to reign. Jesus referred to the kingdom of God throughout His time on earth. I imagine that many looked at Jesus as their King, and the Kingdom is where He is. I wonder how the Israelites felt as they celebrated their King coming in on a donkey. Shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna!” they voiced their praise to their King. Jesus, though, continued to describe that the kingdom is basically, as mentioned before, our hearts and lives. While He walked on earth for a season, even when He left, His Kingdom would remain. What should it look like, and what would not be acceptable conditions? The kingdom that God established here on earth contains the same features and characteristics of His heavenly kingdom. Matthew 6:10 says, Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
As we accept Jesus to rule in our hearts, when we proclaim that He is God, and believe that the sacrifice He made was the reason we can experience true grace, then we have created space for His kingdom to be extended in and through us. We don’t have to wait to begin experiencing life in the kingdom of God in heaven. He reigns in us now. He does His work in and through us. We can be a part of the kingdom of God in such a way even now. Paul reminds us that when we become followers of Jesus, our citizenship changes. We put aside the rights of the world, and realize we have access to the rights found in the kingdom of God. While we are temporarily living amongst competing kingdoms, we know and have hope that our citizenship leads us to our heavenly residence – the kingdom where we can dwell in complete perfection.
Take time to consider, break down the complexities of living in this world, and visualize yourself as a part of God’s kingdom. How should you contribute to the King’s work? Think about Jesus, your loving, compassionate, revealing King. Realize that as He serves as the ruler of your life, He knows what’s best. Strive to understand what He desires of you. What is your role in His kingdom? What do you still need to surrender? What are areas of your life that need to be submitted to Him? But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you. Matthew 6:33