Do you have seasons in life where certain themes in the Bible seem to pull at you more than others? For the last couple of years, three things have tugged at my heart, triggered my curiosity, and compelled my actions more than others: truth, justice, and the idea of the Kingdom of God. If you follow me at all, you are more than likely very familiar with my obsession with the deep correlation between truth, justice, and love. However, the idea of the Kingdom of God, I haven’t really addressed, even though I have spent countless hours pondering it.
The definition of kingdom, according to dictionary.com, is “the spiritual sovereignty of God or Christ, and the domain over which that spiritual sovereignty extends, whether in heaven or on earth.” I have always simplified the definition a little. In my mind, a kingdom is anywhere a ruler reigns. I think that’s fair, given the technical definition. While we are at it, let’s define the word reign: according to dictionary.com; it is “the royal rule or authority (a sovereignty), the period during which a sovereign occupies the throne, and to have control, rule, or influence of any kind.”
So, let’s break this down a little more… the spiritual sovereignty of Christ extends into my heart and my life. He is the final authority, He is sovereign, He still sits on the throne, and He has influence in my heart and the world around me. If I go back to my simplified definition, His kingdom is anywhere He reigns. And He reigns in my life. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, I am told that I am His ambassador (an authorized messenger or representative). I represent Him and His kingdom!
Someone very close to me, who has grown up in the church, has never heard the kingdom of God preached in a way that makes it seem available to us today. Many churches think that, in the Lord’s Prayer, where it says, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” that this is referring to the 1,000-year reign of Christ in the final days. I had a conversation with this friend this last year where I feel like we both left somewhat stunned. I felt like she thought my line of thinking was unbiblical, and I was surprised that the idea of experiencing the kingdom of God today, here and now, was new to her. This left me questioning everything. How could we both have grown up in the church and been taught such drastically different ways of viewing God’s Kingdom? Was I wrong? No, the idea of experiencing and carrying His kingdom resonated with my soul, but I was left feeling undone. How could I better explain what I felt to be true to someone I cared about without sounding delusional? In my heart I wanted everyone to experience the fullness of Christ and the reality of living in His kingdom today. I continued to ponder the idea of the kingdom of God for months to come.
This last year I participated in a leadership program at our church and the last book we studied was called Living in Christ’s Presence, by Dallas Willard. It was like water to my soul. One of the topics he addressed was the kingdom of God. He posed the question, “What was Jesus’ gospel?” instead of asking “What is the gospel?” If we look at Jesus’ teachings, a large majority of them started with, “The kingdom of God is like____.” The kingdom of God is like: a man who sowed good seed in his field, it is like a mustard seed, it is like yeast that a woman mixed into flour, it is like a treasure hidden in a field, the kingdom of God is like a net let down into a lake, it is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet, it is like a landowner who hired workers for his vineyard, like a merchant looking for fine pearls. Jesus was all about the Kingdom of God. In Luke 17:20-21, Jesus said, “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 in your midst.” It is already here! In our midst. So, what is it? Romans 14:17 says, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 4:20 says it is “not a matter of talk but of power.” Colossians 1:13 says “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” In 1 Thessalonians 2:12, “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” So, is it safe to say that the Kingdom of God is present, and in our midst? That it is of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit? That it is of power? In the book, Dallas says, “Spokespersons for Christ bring the life of the kingdom to other people, in themselves.” Read that again. That is so powerful!
Where am I going with all of this? Well, I was speaking with a sweet friend the other day whose heart is clearly after God. She was questioning her role in the world today and what impact she could have on the current state of things. She said something about not going to Bible school like Erich and I, and my heart dropped. I could hear the same misgivings in her own mind that I experience in mine. But guess what? None of us are “qualified” like we imagine we should be. It is a lie of the enemy. If God calls you, He equips you. Period. And He has called all of us! Going to Bible school does not, in any way, shape, or form, make me more qualified than anyone else, to represent Christ to the world around me. Yeah, it may have solidified things in my own heart, gave me extra tools to study the Word of God in ways I might not have known, maybe increased my confidence in the truth… but when it comes down to it… if He reigns in our hearts, minds, and life, then we are His ambassadors. We CARRY His kingdom, everywhere we go. Do you have any idea what that means?!! It means that every person you encounter, you have the opportunity to TOUCH with the kingdom of God!! His love, His truth, His justice, His peace, His healing, His joy.
Dallas Willard said, “The spokesperson for Christ exemplifies eternal living and brings it to bear on everything around them. Eternal living is a life caught up in God. It’s not later. Eternal life is a kind of life that we have now because our life is caught up in God’s life. We are a part of what He is doing. Jesus’ gospel was the availability of life in the kingdom of God, now.”
To some degree, I feel like I elaborated more than I needed to in this post. All I really wanted to say is that you represent Christ, His kingdom, and everything that that entails. Every single person you come into contact with, you have the opportunity and privilege to touch with the Kingdom of God! That is mind boggling, heart stopping, and even incomprehensible at times. What if you are the only person that cashier is going to meet today that can touch them with what it means to live an eternal life? What if you are the only representation of Christ and his love, joy, peace, forgiveness, redemption, healing, and eternal life? Can you picture it? Can you see, extending around yourself, a territory of Christ’s kingdom, everywhere you go, touching everyone you meet? It’s incredible.
The last thought I will leave you with is one more quote from the book, Living in Christ’s Presence: “The test for the secularist and the Christian spokesperson is the reality that they bring people in touch with.” In a world where the secularist’s reality is fear, let’s bring people peace. In a world where hate dominates, let’s bring love. Where there is division, let us bring unity (not tolerance, which is not the same thing, don’t even get me going).
Matthew 13:41 says, “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.” This is not future tense. The kingdom of God is in our midst. It is here and now. Will you accept the call to be his ambassador? Will you bring to bear, the kingdom of God, on everything around you? Will you live a life “caught up in God?” What an honor, what a privilege, and what a challenge. Let’s tackle it together!