Monday, August 24, 2015

Identity in Christ - 35 (Kingdom)

The passage for this trait say that we used to live in the enemy’s kingdom. When we gave our allegiance to Jesus, God moved us, and we now live in his kingdom.
A basic definition of a kingdom is a country ruled by a king. Since, kings are autocratic by definition, they stamp their domains with the character and values. So, each kingdom has its own flavor.
This is certainly true of the kingdoms of God and of Satan. Satan’s kingdom is ruled by lust, greed, quarrels, dissention, disunity, jealousy and a host of other evils. God’s kingdom is ruled by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and discipline.
People are ruled by the traits of the kingdom the belong to. People display the traits of the kingdom the belong to. Obviously, this does not happen perfectly. We have discussed the fact that, although, the power of sin is broken in our lives, the presence of sin will not be removed until we gather before God’s throne, join his heavenly kingdom and receive our final glorification.
So, we will never be perfect in this life. We will always be in the process, in this life, of transforming into the image of Christ. (Or the restoration of our original image and design, which is Christ.)
But now, we live in a different kingdom. We are submitted to a different set of laws, a different ruler and a different life.
  • God’s Perspective
If the country you live in was invaded, and conquered by a foreign power, there would be changes.
First, if this was during an on-going war, the conquering army would begin to commandeer resources from the conquered county for use in the war effort.
Second, the conquering army would impose restrictions on the people of the conquered country. These are meant to hinder and attempt to resist the conquerors … like curfews and forbidding assemblies. For example, when Germany conquered France in World War II, restrictions were placed on movement and assemblies to frustrate the formation of resistance. And rationing was imposed so that food, gasoline and raw materials could be channeled to the German army.
There might also be an attempt to force a cultural identity onto the conquered people. For example, when the communists took over China, the attempted to force atheism – a communist tenet – onto the country. They destroyed churches. They imprisoned leaders. They enacted rules to curtail, if not stop, religious expression. (Stringent restrictions on where and when meetings could be held, what could happen, and who could be involved.)
The conquerors would try to smother the conquered with its life values; motivations and priorities.
The kingdom of God is at war with the kingdom of the devil. All of his children are living in a state of war. All of his children are enlisted in the army. But God’s strategy and tactics are different.
God created language and culture. So, he is not trying to destroy it; he is trying to restore it and give it life. God created people. So, he is not trying to destroy them. He is trying to give them life and abundance.
God created a guerilla army. They infiltrated the kingdom of the enemy and inserted the seeds of God’s Spirit, the gospel, love and grace into the fabric of the enemy’s culture, society and world system.
God conquerors, not by destroying, but by persuading, changing allegiances and establishing relationships.
  • Living My Life
If we have given our allegiance to Jesus, we become part of his family and move into his kingdom. This impacts our life and living in a couple of ways.
1. We are not under the authority of the enemy’s kingdom.
We do not have the enemy as our king. We do not have to obey his rules or laws. We do not have to live his lifestyle.
God expects us to overcome and live beyond the devil’s intentions. God does not expect immediate perfection; he does expect growth. Growth and perfection are assured because he has replaced our DNA with the of his Spirit.
Growth has its own rules. It follows agreement with our hearts and minds. If flows from the inside out. It affects the totality of life … thoughts, words, actions, motivations, relationships, society, culture.
2. We are soldiers in God’s army, having a spiritual impact and a transforming impact in the world.
When you give your allegiance to Jesus, you become a member of his family and a citizen of his kingdom. You also enlist in his army.
We are each responsible to expand his kingdom, influence people to give their allegiance to Jesus, and create bridges, so God’s love and message flow freely to all peoples. Which include people groups on the other side of the world – the middle east, the far east – and people of different race, gender, ethnicity and culture near at hand.
We can’t accomplish this alone, which is why God put us in a family-army. And we may not be involved in every facet. But we all have our sphere of responsibility.
There are practices we should all be engaged in that promote God’s kingdom.
We should all pray. This is not just petition for provision, or thankfulness, or worship. This should be kingdom creating, restoring, expanding prayer. We should pray that:
      - Our brothers and sisters assume their responsibilities in the kingdom.
      - God’s presence would be injected into all the spheres of life.
      - The enemy’s web of lies and deceit would be dissolved in all spheres of life.
There are spheres that many of us do not have access to. (Government, Hollywood, Bollywood, royalty, communities in other countries, communities in our country that we do not have access to. Possibly even in our town, for which we have to bridge.) There are spheres we do have access to. (Family, work, neighbors, associations and clubs.) Our prayers of God’s kingdom, and Spirit penetration, should touch, impact, influence and transform all these areas.
We should all express kingdom-character. This means we should live out a lifestyle that demonstrates kingdom values, motivations and priorities. This includes moral standards, relational practices and activities of our spiritual family.
This also includes the main trait of the kingdom: love. Which means a willingness and a practice of service, which benefits God’s family, and also benefits those not in God’s family. Therefore, it benefits those in the enemy’s kingdom. God shows his love to all people … even those who are against him.
In all things, there should be a distinction between God’s family and the world. And the distinction should be positive. Many in God’s family draw the distinction by highlighting the evils in the world. But the world agrees with and embraces those evils. So, God’s people are perceived negatively by the world. We, as God’s people, should not cease to speak against the world’s evils. But, neither should it overwhelm the love, God’s people should be characterized by. If all the world sees are what God’s people are opposed to, then the world does not see the true God, the true relationship that he seeks, and the true life he gives. The see a distorted caricature of these things.
We should all express Jesus’ message. People’s minds and hearts unite together. So, we need to touch both when trying to influence people to give their allegiance to Jesus. They need to understand the basis, the nature and the results of this decision. The prayer, the lifestyle and the message all work together to bring about this decision and the resulting changes. To omit one part short-circuits the process. To overemphasize one part short-circuits the process.
We are responsible for our participation in all parts. We should all have expression of all parts at some level. Some will cross cultural lines in other countries. Some will cross cultural lines in their country. Some will focus more on prayer. But we each must recognize our responsibility and find our niche in all phases and our parts in God’s mission.

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