Divide & Conquer
Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
What do you think of when you hear “the kingdom of God”? Chances are it’s not what the Jews of Jesus’ day would have thought of. That was a time when a coming kingdom meant war. A time when one nation might utterly destroy another, oppress an entire population, or take its enemies into captivity by the tens of thousands. The Jews expected the Messiah to liberate them from the Roman Empire. Can you blame them for anticipating national deliverance when Jesus started preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand? They assumed that Israel would be that kingdom since they were God’s chosen people. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
Luke 19:11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
The kingdom of God is bigger than a single country. It exists in the hearts of everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus as their Savior and Lord and in their spheres of influence. It is a kingdom at war to redeem the whole world. In every aspect of society, it pushes back against all that is wicked, shameful, and foolish.
The names “Jesus” and “Joshua” both come from the Hebrew name “Yeshua”. It’s very interesting and very fitting that these two figures share the same name. Joshua brought a new kingdom, one set apart by God, that wiped out the nations before them. Jesus also brought a new kingdom, a spiritual kingdom, that will ultimately triumph over every dominion of this world. Those who do not become citizens of God’s kingdom by turning from the ways of this world and surrendering their lives to Jesus will perish. All other kingdoms will be utterly destroyed at the end of days. No prisoners. No survivors.
Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
This is the Gospel, an invitation to become a citizen of God’s kingdom. God wants to adopt us into his family, to use another metaphor. What does it mean to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God or a member of God’s household? It means God is our leader. He calls the shots. Unfortunately, we don’t always listen. We make mistakes. We get lazy. We ignore the truth that’s staring us in the face. However, true believers will want to crave godliness, want to hate sin, and want to desire to serve God. I say it that way because those desires have to be developed. We are most ourselves, most unique, and most effective when we live by truth and righteousness.
2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
What do we do as citizens before the end? We redeem the world. We bring everything into line with God’s design and will. As business people, we deal fairly and thereby push back against greed and corruption. As employees, we work with excellence and push back against a society that tells us to do the bare minimum or to cheat to get ahead. As parents, we train our children to be respectful and civilized. In our marriages, we lay down our lives for our spouses and push back against the selfishness of worldly relationships. In politics, we stand for life, justice, and liberty.
Luke 17:20-21 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
This is the business of church. We are to encourage and empower one another to represent Christ in our homes and workplaces. That will look different for each person. We have different personalities and aptitudes so that we can reveal Christ in our own unique ways. We are ambassadors of the Kingdom, sent out to share the truth and love of God with a lost world. That’s how the Kingdom advances.
Luke 9:2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Most churches seem to think that the mission of Christianity stops at making converts and helping the poor. That’s a small mission. We serve a big God. Redeeming the world is a big mission, one that won’t be completed until the new earth. Biblical Christianity is a powerful worldview that seeks to change the entire world and is capable of doing exactly that.
© 2019 Isaac Philips