The Kingdom of God
(Luke 15: 11-32)
The kingdom of God is not of this earthly creation. It is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. It is spiritual. Jesus told Nicodemus that one most be born of heaven to see the kingdom. Spiritual birth is needed for each of us. It has been said and written before that this can seem gradual, or instantaneous. But a moment occurs for each person who is truly born of the Spirit where that one knows it. The circumstances vary leading to that moment but the birth must happen. Like a child is birthed out of the womb, we are awakened to the kingdom. The child is brought out into the world. The newborn babe in Christ is aware something exists beyond this world.
I notice how often we confuse our earthly attempts to understand with the reality that the kingdom is not knowable by earthly understanding. It is the problem with training and endless reading of books. Our desire for understanding is not wrong but I am aware of the desire to be a teacher. We want a ministry, to be respected, admired in God’s house. Too often we have been taught that acquiring knowledge is the highest goal. In proverbs we are exhorted to gain wisdom, to gain understanding. The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. When the Lord revealed the new covenant to Jeremiah, that prophet declared, you will not teach one another to know the Lord for you will all know me, from the least to the greatest.
And how did Jesus define the greatest? The greatest shall be the servant of all. Long ago I heard and received this truth. We are here to wash one another’s feet. I hear of redemptive gifts and I understand them to be a description of our natural personality inclinations. These need to be subject to the cross. While some of us may be seen by others and our own selves as servants, we are all called to be servants. If we put on Christ, we put on the greatest servant of all. He was the Highest and emptied Himself to become the servant of all mankind. This is a mystery! It is also the greatest truth of all.
The kingdom of God is a vast family of servants. A family of those who know the will of God and do it. Jesus said many times, “To what will I compare (liken) the kingdom of God?” It is like a king who had two sons. He often began with that phrase. We have a king and are like two sons. Jesus contrasted the two sons. One of them we want to be like. The other, not so much. Have you ever refused to rejoice in the salvation, or victory, or blessing of another? Have you been nursing disappointment? That elder son was such when the wayward brother returned home. “Dad, you never gave me a party, and look all you are doing for this kid who wasted what you gave him? And you want me to join this party? No way!” Most amazing to me that the Father pleads with that bitter son to come in. Pleads? We could easily complain to that Father, “Why would you plead with him, that bitter guy?” The Father’s heart is revealed that He looks for that elder brother to soften his heart. The Lord loves him too. He had been working too hard and not enjoying the blessings, even earthly ones, that the Lord had for him.
The kingdom includes both of these brothers. The Father loved them both. Both needed a repentance, a return and a restoration to right relationship. We could say more about this story, this parable but we will let you go search more yourself. We mentioned the desire for us to be teachers. As we grow spiritually we should be teaching others. This is mentioned in Hebrews regarding maturity. It has taken a time for me to begin to write into the public sphere. I had to come to a place of confidence in whom the Lord had grown me up to be. I often say that what we need to do is quite simple. Learn to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen. Find good teachers. Connect with genuine believers. Move from one sheepfold to another.
In all this, move as the Good Shepherd directs you. Have you been in one stream (denomination?) for your whole life, afraid or unwilling to drink from a richer stream? Sorry but every denomination is just that. Individual churches with denominational names are often now more alive than in the past. Leadership is critically important. If a leader is still not learning of the Lord and growing, you will come to a time you must move. Do you know His voice? You can know it, you must. He creates the hearing ear. He, the living God, wants you to know Him more than you know Him today. This is the New Covenant in the blood of Christ. Such is the kingdom of God. It is filled with sons.