What is a “kingdom?” We don’t use this word often these days; it’s still in our vocabulary, but we tend to think of it as an antiquated synonym for the words “nation” or “country.” Yet what it denotes is less a particular geographic area and more being under the authority of a specific ruler, like the word “rulership.” The suffix “-dom” actually comes from the Old English dom meaning “statute or judgment.” So, a kingdom is those people who are under the statutes or judgments–the authority–of a particular ruler or king. But what is God’s–or Christ’s–kingdom, and why is it so important to be a part of it?
“Jesus answered, ‘My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep Me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But My Kingdom is not of this world.'” (John 18:36 NLT)
Jesus famously said these words to Pontius Pilate. It is interesting to note that Judas actually gave up on Jesus (and subsequently betrayed Him) when he finally realized this exact truth–that Jesus wasn’t planning on overthrowing the Roman government, as Judas had hoped and the Jewish leaders accused Him of. But why is it important that Jesus wasn’t looking for earthly authority or power? What is His kingdom? And how does this affect us today–why is it still important two thousand years later?
This is still important today because until we recognize who Jesus Christ is–that He is the Son of God; God born a human being; Immanuel, God even now still with us through His Spirit–nothing of the Christian lifestyle makes sense: not the self-denial, the humbling of self, the serving others, the preferring of others and their interests over my own, the living for eternal rewards, or anything else in the Christian life.
It’s as Paul described when he wrote to the Corinthian Christians:
“Every word we speak was taught to us by God’s Spirit, not by human wisdom. And this same Spirit helps us teach spiritual things to spiritual people. This is why only someone who has God’s Spirit can understand spiritual blessings. Anyone who doesn’t have God’s Spirit thinks these blessings are foolish.”
(1 Corinthians 2:13-14 CEV)
People who haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ for who He really is–God having physically become a human being–and what He really does when we commit our life to Him–transfer us out of the kingdom (the authority, rulership, power) of disappointment, sin, depression, hopelessness, guilt, hate, darkness and futility, to His world–His kingdom of hope, life, goodness, love, forgiveness, acceptance, freedom, validation, fulfillment, and everything else good–don’t see; they don’t get it.
They don’t see that living without Jesus in us–that pushing Him away when He asks to come in; clearing Him out of our thoughts and mind when we sense Him there; ultimately running away instead of opening up and letting Him in–is sadness, darkness and hopelessness–it’s separating ourselves off from everything pure and bright and light and genuinely good.
But if I am brave–if I take the chance and open up to let Him in–He shines acceptance, forgiveness, goodness, light, hope, love into my existence–into who I am and everything I do!
It’s because once I let Him in, once I understand the entire picture, God changes me from the inside out. He heals me; He makes me complete and whole–everything I was meant to be! Yes, I’m still tempted to be selfish; to look out for myself. But now I have Jesus helping me; working on the bad emotions and desires that pop up, so that I also want to do good. And not only that; I actually have the power to do it–to act on those good choices! This is because who I am inside has recognized Who He is and that I, along with everything else in nature, am under His jurisdiction. I have become part of God’s kingdom!
“He rescued us from the control of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. He set us free through the Son and forgave our sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14 CEB)
Don’t you want this for yourself too?
Please take me from the control of darkness–of everything bad–and move me to Your kingdom. Amen!