In a world where identification with Christian beliefs and values is becoming less and less politically correct knowing who we are in Christ can make all the difference in the world.
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:9 (NKJV)
When we come to the place where we recognize the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf and invite Him into our lives to not just be a part of it – but to take it over something remarkable happens. We stop being of this earthly realm and are immediately translated into a citizenship of a heavenly one. So, why don’t we live like it?
In the Gospels, Jesus often taught parables about the Kingdom and was heard saying to His followers, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand…” (Matthew 3:2 NKJV)
In Ephesians 1:20 we read that we are already seated with Christ in heavenly places. Right now. Today – in the Kingdom of heaven. Look around you – what does the Kingdom look like?
For me when I was growing up heaven was a far off distant reality that I got to be a part of if I became a part of the family of Christ by faith. It did not really effect my here and now, it merely pushed me to hope for something I wasn’t really sure I could experience. I lived like hell while claiming to be a resident of heaven as a result.
Recently, I have been exposed to an atmosphere that advocates a heavenly existence right here on earth. The first time I heard this teaching in the Freedom Classes at Gateway Church it tumped my apple cart over. I mean it turned me upside down.
Which, I’ve come to discover, is how God sometimes has to deal with my rational self.
If I’m living for a Kingdom Reality right here on earth – what does that look like?
How do we remain culturally relevant while living in our royal reality – our Kingdom identity?
Does it feel like a stretch? Perhaps we should turn to the Scriptures for clues.
Jesus addresses this very issue in Chapter 6 of the Gospel of Matthew:
1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.b]’>[b]7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.d]’>[d]
Again… I hear God saying… “Don’t do it to get attention from others for yourself, but instead – do it for Me.”
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We’ve now hit on the key…
Verse 21 illuminates a very important part of the issues at stake:
When I stand in public and pray – why am I there? Where is my heart?
When I give to charities in public – why am I giving? Where is my heart?
When I fast – why am I fasting? Where is my heart?
What is it I am seeking in all these things?
Repeat this out loud: Where my treasure is, there my heart will be also. Where [insert your name]’s Treasure is there her heart will be also.
If there is anything that takes priority in my heart over God and His priorities, I’m missing the Kingdom.
22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
If my heart pursues the darkness of this world while professing the Light of Christ am I truly walking in the Kingdom set apart while living in this world?
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Who is my master? Is my drive for status, material gain, achievement, popularity and men’s favor the motivation for my life pursuits then who am I serving?
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
At what point do I have responsibility and at what point do I surrender to God?
Is there a line that needs to be defined?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Jesus assures us here that God is concerned with the things that concern us and His desire is to meet our needs beyond even our own expectations.
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (NKJV)
Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all the things I need and anything I would seek after will be added to me. So what does all this mean?
Life in God’s Kingdom is not about what I get out of it – but about WHO I’m seeking. In my heart, what the deepest part of me is seeking must be Him. His Kingdom, His Righteousness.
Jesus said it this way:
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
As I have pursued the path of Freedom, the path of the Kingdom in the last few years I’ve discovered that my heart is not always aligned with God’s will. At times, I’ve got my own agenda. And, truth – I want God to bless it when I do.
Let me give you an example from my own life:
I was into the Freedom process about nine months and really digging into what I struggle with the most. One of the things that came to the surface was our finances. I lay in bed one morning tallying up the bill. As I reviewed our finances in my head I began to pray:
“God, I’ve really made a mess out of this. I mean I can’t think of one part of this that is not my responsibility. I thought I really heard you last year but now, it is effecting every part of our lives and I’m afraid that the truth is that I have failed.” I lay there just aching over the fact that no matter how good my intentions were I never quite measured up. My heart was broken because I had hurt my family, missed the opportunity to realize God’s plan for our finances, and that my heart reflected priorities other than what the Kingdom of God represents. I repented at that moment. “Father God, I need a job. A job that pays $XX,XXX amount of dollars…. AND, I’M GOING TO GO OUT AND GET ONE.”
I lay there quiet contemplating where I might find a job that pays $XX,XXX when I sensed God say, “You haven’t asked me about that yet.”
I lay there quite frankly put out a little by the response. I had just taken responsibility for my failure and was ready to do something about it when God intervened. I responded the only way I know to respond to God, “Okay, I’m asking you. What kind of job should I get?”
It would be an understatement if I said that it was quiet. SILENCE is what I sensed all around me. I took that as a sign to wait which didn’t make sense, but it did open the door for God to open my eyes.
In that time, God blessed us financially in unconventional ways. Scott had literally not had overtime all year long but in 6 weeks time he grossed about half of what I quoted to God as our immediate need. At Christmas some child support arrearages were paid in the thousands and some collateral damage in my relationship with Scott was revealed.
The hard work followed, but the truth is that I walked along side God the whole way seeking to find the freedom of His Kingdom in my life. Instead of being hurt by the things that were happening – I chose forgiveness. Instead of defenses, I repented. I’m still working on some of those things that came out in this season, but trusting my God and learning to trust my family and my husband with who I really am has totally been worth it. I am acceptable and redeemed. I’m not a failure. I am forgiven. I’m a precious child of the Most High King.
And, how did it work out. Well, I was reminded of an assignment I knew was from God earlier that year. I was supposed to start volunteering my time serving in the offices at Gateway. I had become well acquainted with the Pastoral Care department and requested that I be assigned there. And, when I was asked if I would be interested in coming on board as an Administrative Assistant my response was to consult God and my husband before making a decision.
In July I received a job offer from the Human Resources department that was exactly what I had told God I needed one year before plus an exact tithe. I am doing what I love every single day and learning more and more what it means to walk in Freedom and invite others to walk in Freedom with me as well. Because I listened, stayed close and allowed God to speak to me about who I am in Him… Not what I had done in the past.
Do I still struggle? Yes, I do. But, when I do – repentance is the first step to freedom. I just have to turn around. God always shows me the way back from where I stepped off the path and started pursuing my own desires over His. And, what I know today is that His desires are better than anything I would ever choose for myself.
If you have a testimony about How God Changed Your Life by introducing you to the Identity He created you to live out of in His Kingdom please email it to me. I would love to hear it and with your permission share it on this blog to encourage others along their way.
Oh… About the Kingdom. One of the most powerful examples of this teaching about the Kingdom landed on me about three years ago.
The pastor teaching the class read Matthew 6:10 and then said, “Jesus says the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Stick out your hand.” [She demonstrated by holding her arm out in front of her with her palm up.] She said, “Now look at it. How far away is that?”
THE. KINGDOM. OF. HEAVEN. IS. AT. HAND.
Ask God to change your perspective. The difference in a far off distant Kingdom that I’ll arrive in after I die and the Kingdom that is at hand is my perspective. Ask God to show you His Kingdom… It is at Hand. Oh, and about being Politically Correct. You will find that when you live in the Kingdom that is at Hand… You don’t have to talk so much about what you believe you just have to show them the DOOR (Revelation 3) and tell them who the Kingdom is about, then they choose to invite Him in because of the influence that comes from living in the Kingdom.
Your Kingdom Come, Daddy God, Your Will Be Done, Daddy God, on earth as it is in heaven.