The Kingdom of God: “Beloved, Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father, and from the LORD Jesus Christ. Happy Memorial Day. I hope you had a safe and wonderful weekend. It is always appropriate to take time out to salute, and honor those men and women who put their lives on the line for our country, The United States of America. Even if you do not stand in agreement with the present course of our country, the men and women of our Armed Forces, stand in the gap so that you have the right to disagree. So to them we say thank you, and may the LORD bless you.
Allow me in today’s blog to get a little political. I want to encourage you to be Kingdom minded. I have not done much writing about the Kingdom. I have been preaching about the Kingdom of God, just about exclusively for the year of 2009. We at IHP have been really enjoying what we have learned from the Word of God, about his Kingdom. Jesus preached, taught and admonished us all to behave in such a way as to be identified with the KINGDOM. All over the scriptures Jesus confronted the Jewish community not about forms of polity in the synagogue, but about the Kingdom of God. What is that? The word Kingdom can best be explained as the rule, or the paradigm of. Let’s take a look quickly at the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark. The first eight verses introduce John the Baptist. The scripture foretold of his coming, how is ministry did well in the wilderness. Even spoke about what kind of clothe he wore. Then in verse nine, Mark introduces Jesus as he comes to be baptized. In verse 14, we find out that John goes to jail, and Jesus begins to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Jesus preaching to the Jewish community, begins to preach the Gospel (good news) of the Kingdom (paradigm, rule) of God. Listen to what Jesus said to the religious community of Jews. Let me make this observation, I am not one of those who see religion as a bad word. Being a Christian is being religious. Religion means
. So believing in God means we are religious. Some preachers have change religion to mean a person who knows the rules, but has no relationship. I reject that meaning.
In verse fifteen look at what he says to a community, that as a habit, attends worship services. Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is scandalous. To say this to the believing community, is at the very least harsh. Here is how it is rendered in the New Living Translation. Mark 1:15 ‘At last the time has come!’ he announced. ‘The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!’ If the point is not made yet, let’s take a look at the same verse in the Message bible (which I am not a fan of). Mark 1:15 ‘Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.’
Here is my point. The message of the Kingdom is not going to be a welcomed message. Imagine someone coming into your church, where you worship every week. This preacher has not been informed of your mind set, nor of your giving habits, nor of your willingness to obey your leaders, yet he comes in and makes this statement. Why? Admittedly the Jewish community does have a relationship with God. The community certainly has a rich history with God. Most of the inhabitants of whatever region they occupy will attest they are a pious people, concern with the things of God. Yet Jesus brings this cutting message.
Jesus says to them in a bold manner, you cannot continue in this form of faith, and believe in systems of law, and expect God to affirm you. This will no longer work, because a new day has arrived. God is saying, your ability to follow laws is duly noted, but God is calling for more. Why? You can follow God’s law, and not repent of sins. You can follow laws, and not change your life. You can follow laws, and not believe Gods word. Many people do it in our churches. I believe God enough to dress appropriately for Sunday Worship, but Tithing takes another kind of faith. I can certainly teach Sunday school, but treating my wife, like the gift of God, takes another kind of faith. Certainly I can head a committee or two, but submitting to my husband is entirely a misinterpretation of Holy Writ.
Jesus invites us to think differently about who we are, and what we are doing. We are not just members of a local church, we are subjects of the Kingdom Of God, and that requires more of us than just a Sunday attitude. The Kingdom of God is at hand. This week let’s take a little bit of a look of what Kingdom means. I travel a great deal. I am constantly on the road doing music somewhere. Many times it takes me out of the United States. The Kingdom I come from defines me. For example, if I get into trouble, I understand that in America, I have the right to one phone call. In America where ever I am, I understand that to be the norm. If I get into trouble in Japan, I will ask for my phone call. The Constitution of Japan, may not afford me that right, but the fact that I am an American will cause me to ask for, even demand my phone call. If that is not what is done there, I will expect them to accommodate me, because of the Kingdom I come from. So many times, we can tell what Kingdom you come from, based on your behavior. What Kingdom do people think you come from? Does your behavior make it clear that you are of the Kingdom of God, or are you hiding your nationality? When an issue on your job comes up, and an opinion is offered that is politically correct, but not part of the Kingdom mindset, do you blend in? Having a Kingdom mindset is definable. Jesus is requiring us to behave like Christians, and not just look like one. Repent, which is entirely different from saying you’re sorry, it means to change your ways. Also, believe what Jesus says is right. These are requirements of Kingdom Living.
We can no longer behave like the Jews of that time, and cling to our family tree, our opinion of ourselves, or our affiliation. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking, well I am Baptist, or Episcopal, or Pentecostal. Nor can we convince ourselves that because I am a deacon, or a trustee, or a Pastor that we are immune from scrutiny. Being a part of the Kingdom means obeying our King, and beloved his name is Jesus. Next week, let’s take a closer look at what being a part of the kingdom is like.
Yours Because I’m His