Kingdom Principle: The King rules and reigns the Kingdom.
Are you anxious about the things of this world or rejoicing with the angels?
My kids were not allowed to play tag at recess in elementary school because someone might get hurt. No more swing sets and if you go on the money bars… don’t act like a monkey, you must play safe! The rules of the playground are better understood as a playground ruled by safety. Our culture opts for a principal and principle that plays it safe to ensure security, rather than a King that establishes freedom to rule and reign. Do we want a King that rules and reigns over the Kingdom or do we want a King that ensures safety and security?
C.S. Lewis describes the King in the tales of Narnia. In the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, we learn that, “Aslan is good, but Aslan is not safe” later in Prince Caspian we learn “Aslan never does anything the same way twice”. Aslan the Lion, is the King over the Kingdom of Narina. We do not live in Narnia, and much of this world has been held captive by the illusion of control and need for safety. Edwin Friedman – calls this the “failure of nerve” and hence forth describes why much of leadership today is without effect – leaders are hand-cuffed by anxiety and the need to choose the safe path, rather than one that is willing to step out and lead against the existing norms. The King of the Kingdom has nerve and moves with decisive and clear act of leadership… and is calling us to be his servantleaders of the Kingdom. This places us in the crucible of conflict, where we discover our convictions and identity.
The King of Heaven & Earth does not focus on safety as a motivation for our well-being. In the Kingdom it is about peace regardless of safety. In fact the King focuses more on taking risks and presenting us with challenges that can develop us rather than to prevent us from experiencing failure. The Kingdom of God is the place where God rules and reigns, and with His rule and reign; comes challenge, change and crisis which are the teaching tools of life. In these passages we are confronted with truths about God’s rule and reign of the Kingdom.
The King is in control, but that control can be experienced in many ways. When my wife & I take control over what our kids eat (which is our right and responsibility) and then let them choose whatever they want to eat while they are at home – Is this a contradiction? Not at all, we are responsible for what is in our home. When I reign over the food in my home, I can also rule to let them choose. (some may argue this is no choice at all…) Now if a child says – I want to bring a new food option in to the house – is it their choice to do so? Not all! (again – they have choice but not control, but they can make a request and it just might be granted, they can sneak it, but then there is punishment) The focus is that we as parents don’t allow food in the house which we don’t approve of… It is not their house and the choice they have been given is to eat freely from that which is in the house. When they choose to go “out” to eat, then they have ventured outside of the household. It is here that they discover the choice to eat as they wish, but they need not choose contrary to the pattern set before them, they can choose to abide by the rules of the house, if they do so, then they have chosen to expand the reign of the household.
When I as parent control everything, (meaning I never let them eat outside of my control) then the child has learned nothing but to depend on me to keep them safe. God is not a controlling parent; rather God is a merciful King. God even put the tree which they were not to eat from in the garden. This makes God good by not always safe. God opts to create the opportunity for us to choose, which brings the risk, challenge and change we must encounter to truly learn to walk according to the pattern of the Kingdom. The Lord invites all into the Kingdom, and at the same time upholds the rule and reign. The error of the one who enters the “wedding banquet” in the wrong clothes is the same for one who enters my house to eat foods that are not according to the pattern we have established. This place is not for them. (My kids ages 9,11,& 13 have the freedom to eat as the wish, but the pattern has taken root…. Their desire for soda is absent and they have each learned what their body responds well to and not so well) We are neither bound to legalism nor abandoned to lustful passion. Rather we are called to rejoice always and to be filled with peace remembering all that that the Lord has done for us. When we reject this invitation, we venture on to the path that leads to destruction, rather than the path of life.
There are two paths that are being contrasted in the passages this week – last week Paul called us to follow the pattern that he has set before us – Thankfulness! This week he further explains that fruit of this path. Rejoicing! The two paths or patterns are set forth as focusing on the things of heaven or on the things of this world. (There are two Kingdoms humanity is not the ruler of either…)
The fruit on path of the world is conflict, destruction, rebellion. It is greed and idolatry which moves us down this path. The fruit on path of the kingdom of heaven is conviction, gentleness, and understanding. It is righteousness and peace which move us down this joy filled path. (Romans 14:17) Aaron forgot the conviction given from Yahweh and therefore was overcome with conflict, which then gave birth to destruction and rebellion. Paul demonstrates conviction that overcomes the conflict of Euodia & Syntyche… and urges them to pursue peace by means of gentleness.
The Kingdom of God is before us all, we have been invited, what we must discover is the conviction to come under the rule and reign of the King. This is to be clothed by the Righteousness of Christ. These are no garments we must find or create; rather they are given unto us so that we can enter the banquet without fear. It is for this reason that simply following the rules is not enough nor will following the rules lead you to transformation. We are going to be ruled either by are sinful desires or we are to be rule by the freedom of the Kingdom.
- In what ways are you convicted to advance the Kingdom… proclaiming the rule and reign of God as a freedom to celebrate rather than restrictions to keep and control?
- When you make decisions, are you filled with anxiety or peace? If anxiety you may be best served by the King, by “eating at home” for awhile – to do this is to focus your thoughts on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable excellent and praiseworthy. Peace is deeper than understanding and it found as a fruit of righteousness.
- Do you wonder if there is a pattern or path to a better life with the King?
- Is your life marked by “conflict, destruction, and rebellion” OR “conviction, gentleness, and understanding” if the first three – then the answer to the last question is YES!