Life application of the Kingdom of God

 

The reign of God is not over one part of our lives but over life in totality. So last week we started looking at what it looks like to be in the Kingdom of God. We recognised that if we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, there is a culture in that Kingdom that is different to that of the kingdom of this world. We started by looking at the Beatitudes about breathing in and breathing out.

 

Today we take as our verse:

 

Luke 12:29 And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

 

Other versions say: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

 

This is a call for us to reconsider how we have been approaching our life, in light of the fact that we now, in the presence of Jesus, have the option of living within the life offered by him, of taking our life into his life. [1]

 

The kingdom of God is not about doing but being. From our being arises our doing. Doing good, and keeping very busy if it is not birthed in our being produces a counterfeit fulfillment based in doing instead of being. 

 

The influential NZ theologian and pastor Brian Hathaway wrote “We are to demonstrate his rule in our lives and so bring the perspective of his truth into all we do and seek to extend the Kingdom of God into the lives of those around us.”[2]

 

We demonstrate his rule in our lives by our worldview and the way we conduct ourselves.

 

We are going to look at how our worldview shapes our world on three fronts.: personal, interpersonal and worldwide – the micro, meso and macro views

 

The micro level is the personal level.

 

Thomas Groome writes that The Kingdom of God is realised in our lives by authentic love and care for ourselves; it is marked by inner peace, realisation of our dignity and worth, recognition and development of our gifts, by a sense of hope and joy in life, a satisfying of what we need, physically, socially and aesthetically for wholeness of life.[3]

 

In other words, God’s kingdom promises radical changes in human personalities.[4]  These changes happen because God transforms us from the inside out.  Remember it is not about trying harder.

 

be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

 

Allow God to transform our worldview.

 

To those unaccustomed to the term ‘worldview’, it is the way in which we automatically think because it is the life we have always experienced.  It is the set of beliefs and assumptions that we don’t even recognise that act as a filter to our interpretation of the world around us. Ask a goldfish what water is like and he cannot answer because for him his entire world is water. That is his worldview and he cannot even contemplate anything different.

 

When we enter the Kingdom of God, our worldview from the world does not fit and we need God to transform those core beliefs that we hold and change the filter through which we view life.

 

So lets return to Thomas Groome’s list of the components of this new Kingdom world view.

 

 

That description though is a handful, isn’t it? Let’s break it down.

 

authentic love and care for ourselves: Love your neighbour as you love yourself.  Do you like yourself or have the negative words by parents, friends, teachers, spouse, employers spoken over you taken root and now you despise yourself? The kingdom is the Truth and the truth is that we are made in the image of God, we were created by God before our parents even knew about it. Authentic love is agape love – the highest sort of love, the love without conditions or restrictions. It is okay to love ourselves. In fact if we don’t love who we are and don’t care for ourselves we play right into the hand of the enemy whose role is to kill and destroy.

 

inner peace:  When we know who we are and who we are loved by and which kingdom we live in, there is peace.  The kingdom of God is the only kingdom that has everlasting peace within its borders. We do not need to take up arms against people. God vindicates us, God fights for us.

 

2 Chronicles 20:15

This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.

 

Romans 12:19

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God;[a] for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Remember the beatitude ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’

 

realisation of our dignity and worth:  Who determines our worth?  Our parents, our employer? Or God.

 

The most significantly transformative experience any of us will have is to recognise the value of our own existence.[5]

 

And that realisation only comes from one with no agenda.  That one who does not pander to our egos in order to get something from us, or put us down in order to make himself feel more worthy. He does not view us through his own cracked lens. The only accurate reflection of who we are comes from God. When we are in his kingdom we know our true worth, not what the world may say is our worth..

 

recognition and development of our gifts:   

 

God wants you to reach your potential by using and developing the mix of temperament, gifts, talents, skills motivations and yearnings that go to make up the person that you are. [6]

 

Inside each of us is the inbuilt abilities and talents and personality created by God. Often that had been squashed down or distorted by the world, often from an early age, yet God wants us to return to his plan for our lives.  When we realise what he made us to be and to do, there is freedom.

 

by a sense of hope and joy in life,

 

The Christian is a person of hope because of a belief in God, and in particular in a God who created the world and brought forth human life within it for a purpose, which he will infallibly fulfil. This world is not running amok destined for disaster. God is Lord of his world and he will not permit it to escape from his grasp[7]

 

We have an eternal hope.  Interestingly we often think of eternity that happens when we die, but eternity is now as well. So when we talk of our eternal hope, that hope relates to here and now as well as when we die.

 

a satisfying of what we need, physically, socially and aesthetically for wholeness of life:

 

This last bit relates to the verses previous to Luke 12:31 

And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them.

 

We do not need to worry about what to eat or what we wear or any of the other things people stress over because we have put the kingdom of God first.

 

So turning away from outselves and turning to the meso level , to the interpersonal level.

 

Interpersonally, the reign of God calls us to a lifelong conversion of deepening relationship with God and of turning toward our neighbour with all that love requires (justice, peace, respect etc)[8]

 

Philippians 2:5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus

 

Stanley Jones refers to this passage as being “more thoroughgoing than to love your neighbour as you love yourself, for the standard in that statement was self love; here the standard is Christ love…This new morality of the kingdom sets the standard of what Jesus Christ would do for you.[9]

 

In my life I can testify to that transformation of worldview. The transformation was in how I viewed people.  The same people I arrested when I was a Policeman, God has made my friends.  I did not need to try to do that, God changed my worldview. He turned by heart from stone to a heart of compassion. Out of that changed heart, comes actions of love.

 

And finally at the macro level:

 

In the socio/political realm, our membership in the kingdom of God means that we and our faith communities should publicly reflect the kingdom realisation in our lives and churches and participate as a ‘public church’ in society that helps effect its eminently social values of life for all.[10]

 

The church is supposed to be credible witnesses to the love, justice and mercy of God to the surrounding communities. God has chosen the church to model something of his Kingdom purposes to a watching world.[11]

 

So you see with this little snapshot of the whole of our lives that the transformation that happens within us when we become a citizen of the Kingdom of God happens inside us and then flows out into our actions.  We breathe in the kingdom and breathe out the love of God

           

 



[1] Dallas Willard the divine conspiracy 23.

[2] Brian Hathaway Beyond Renewal – the Kingdom of God 87

[3] Thomas H Groome Sharing Faith: a comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry 17

[4] Charles Colson Kingdoms in Conflict 94

[5] Stephanie Dowrick Seeking the Sacred 32

[6] Alister MacKenzie, Wayne Kirkland, Annette Dunham Soul Purpose: making a difference in life and work  14

 

[7] Bruce Milne Know the Truth 344

 

[8] Groome 17

[9] The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person (E Stanley Jones) 107

[10] Groome 17

[11] Brian Hathaway Beyond Renewal – the Kingdom of God 160