Thursday, January 16, 2014

Following Jesus, and Jesus’ Fascination with the Kingdom

We aren’t really following Jesus if we don’t care about what Jesus cares about. And one cannot read the Gospels without concluding that Jesus really cares about God’s Kingdom. Do we?

A Kingdom needs a King. We tend to think of Jesus with many different terms: Friend of Sinners; Savior, etc. And He is. But He is also our King. We have not been raised knowing how to give specific allegiance to a king. We tend to do it subconsciously, to many different, competing authorities. But Jesus is not merely a competing authority. He is King. There can only be one.

  • Does this kind of submissive allegiance show up in your following of Jesus?

A Kingdom needs subjects, or citizens. In the New Testament, we find that the citizens of God’s Kingdom are regarded as His adopted children. So when we use the word “Father” of God, we are actually using kingdom language, speaking to the Ruler of the universe who is our Father, and King (I believe it is Biblical to refer to both the Father and Son as king).

  • Does your communication with God make up an important part of your following of Jesus?

A Kingdom also needs a realm, a dominion (the “dom” part of kingdom). But the earth under our feet at the present time is enemy territory. Therefore, we are citizens of a foreign kingdom. That kingdom is presently heavenly, though the Father has given us His Word (the Bible), and the Spirit has been given by our ascended King to us so that we are not left alone. We can be in constant communication even though we live in a dangerous place.

  • Does your reliance on the Word and Spirit form the guidance system of your following of Jesus?

Note these two, key verses from Jesus Himself about the Kingdom:

“Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”” (Mark 1:14–15 NAS95)

  • Do acts of repentance and faith comprise the major structures of your following of Jesus?

““Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9–10 NAS95)

  • Do I deeply desire the coming of the kingdom in fullness, or do I merely desire a slightly better life in my present situation?

Jesus’ fascination with Kingdom shows up 

  • in the obedience of Jesus’ followers (how they establish boundaries and priorities)
  • in the prayers of Jesus’ followers (how they manage and resource their internal world), 
  • in the dependence of Jesus’ followers (on God’s instruction rather than the world’s)
  • in the humble acceptance of correction and change in the lives of Jesus followers,
  • and in the imaginations of Jesus’ followers (their conviction that this is not all there is, and their determination not to live as though it were). 

If this is not happening, we are not really following the Jesus of the Bible.

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