Kingdom Principle: Kingdom living requires an undivided life, yet will potentially separate everything else from you.
Jonah 3:1-5, 10 Psalm 62:5-12 1 Corinthians 7:29-35 Mark 1:14-20
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My wife and I for some time have been intending to create a Living Trust. It is not because we have so much – and yet we do – to begin with our kids, the house, life insurance, and all the impending realities of this world. It is an overwhelming task – and yet it is a true gift to look at the value of all that you posses and to assign it a role in your death. We have not completed the process and part of our excuse is – our life and our possessions are the in the Lord’s hands, and yet what keeps us going is the real potential for others to fight (disagree) over the realities of this world we leave behind. To quickly answer the leading question of this post regarding marriage: Trying to build or save your marriage into something that cannot be broken is an effort of good intention, but wrong direction. The actual release from the need to save or build your marriage into the true joy of being in a relationship that last this life time is what prevents divorce. (Read – the 7 Principles of Making Marriage Last, by Dr. John Gottman)
To be for be the Kingdom of God – is to be unmoved or motivated by the kingdoms of this world. Kingdoms of this world can be anything from an individual to an institution. Even when churches, marriages, and identities are formed and tied to this world and not that which is established for the Kingdom of God it will cause an divided heart. (Marriage is an institution established by God – to invest in it as such – join our marriage enrichment cohort – begins again Feb. 4th 2012.) The time has been fulfilled, (it is short – in Paul’s words) this does not mean to abandoned institutions rather it means to see them as what they are – a tool and means by which God can and will assist you to be about what is greater – That is the Kingdom of God.
This concept of commitment and level of devotion seems complicated to us, yet we accept it and see it clearly in the calling and life of a solider trained for war. When a solider returns from war, we call them a veteran. We acknowledge the service they have given, but it is hard for any of us who have not been to war to comprehend the sacrifice they have given. This sacrifice is not simply time away from their families, risk of life, training and the traumatic experiences – the sacrifice is their very identity with no option to return to life as they once knew it. They have completely given over their lives – whether they die or not. Their training is a conversion of national allegiance – where their will is redefined to charge ahead in the face of death and to value the lives of people they do not know by name more than their own life. Their tongue is disciplined to answer in submission and respect to the commanding officer at all times. It is no wonder that when Jesus is approached by a soldier (Luke 7:1-10) who understood this level of conversion and faith –Jesus said none in Israel believed as he had.
Christians are called to his same devotion and commitment for we are in a battle. There is a war going on – it is a matter of life and death – and for the most part Christians are going through the motions of their faith without the slightest awareness or appreciation for the battle that they have been enlisted to fight. This battle will tear your family apart, it will require you to give your life, it will demand your attention and discipline or else when the battle is faced – you will either cower in fear or face destruction and death unless you have trained for such a time as this.
The Kingdom of God is – a Kingdom with a King not of this world – and we are called to be the servants, soldiers and heirs of this great Kingdom. While we are enlisted into this battle which is not of flesh and blood – or even of this world for that matter. The effects of the battle are not only experienced in this world, they are as tangible and impactful as anything we do or do not do in this world. We can pretend that there is no war, we can separate ourselves from society, we can attempt to balance how much we let it affect us – but we live in denial if we are going to give our lives to the King and pretend that it will not affect every aspect of our lives.
So – what do we do with our lives….. Our marriages, our families, our friendships, our possessions, our jobs, and the thing we have come to call the church as an institutional force of organization. All of these are rooted in the soil of this world. When we count any of these things as more precious or valuable than our service to the King we have committed the error of Jonah – Not wanting to acknowledge the larger lens and more powerful love of God than we can control and contain. For Jonah this a national issue – and we can see that very clearly today. God’s Kingdom is not nationally aligned – (no room hear for commentary on the current electoral process…)
At the same time – We have experiences in this world that we bring to the table when enter to the Kingdom to fight for the King. Are we to simply leave behind all that we have in this world? NO – Are we to give all that we have in this world over to the King? YES… in choosing this we are choosing to live a life that is undivided. Whatever you have to leave behind or to give to the King is in your life for the purposes of the King. The our journey is to discover how we can use all things for the Kingdom and not our own comfort an gain. Our Strengths are for the King as are our Weaknesses. When we wrestle with this – it takes us to the core of Repentance – “A turning away from what once was – to what will be so”. The repentance is connected by Jesus with believing in the good news. This Good News is at the heart of the Kingdom – that in Jesus as our King – all things have been redeemed.
If the passage of 1 Cor. is challenging to you today – you are in the right place. If it is not challenging to you; either you are not in touch with what it costs to be a servant of the Kingdom or your have chosen to divide your life into what is the King’s and what is not – and the impact that decision is yet to be realized.
The challenge of the passage is because Christians are called to convert everything in their life in following Jesus. Our body –in what we do, Our soul in what we think or feel, and our very relationships. All of this is a submission of our lives by the rule of the Spirit. Imagine if Jesus calls James or John and they say” can’t we just stay here on the boat and share the Good News to all who are in our lives already? Sure there is a need – but the call is not simply to share about the good news it is a call to repentance and change so that the Good News is not based in this world rather in the conversion to the Kingdom of God.
Questions to guide you:
- Where does your time seem divided? – as if you (body, soul & spirit) are going in different directions all the time? (Being busy does not mean your time is divided – in fact not being committed and involved is a sure sign that your time can be given to almost anything that wants it…)
- The Lord Hates Divorce – so Cor. 1:29 is not a call for such action. Yet Idolatry is loving anything more than God as King. Connecting last week – how can you and your spouse have an undivided Spirit – to your rule your marriage?
- What makes a person powerful in the Kingdom of God? (Review today’s Psalm)
- What makes a person powerful in the kingdoms of this world? Does power in the World prevent power in the Kingdom of God – if not how do you reconcile these two answers?
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