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Once, having been asked by the Pharisees
when the kingdom of God would come,
Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does
not come with your careful observation,
21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or
‘There it is,’ because the kingdom
of God is within you.”
It was brought out in one of the sessions at the Navigate conference that I attended that Jesus was a master at shaping culture. He was on a mission to help us to better understand what life in The Kingdom looked like.
Almost every parable Jesus tells is shaping and reinforcing the values of the kingdom.
Matthew 13 is a good example of a variety of example stories given for kingdom living.
The Kingdom of God is like..... in the parables and stories that follow are examples of Jesus reinforcing the culture of the Kingdom. Pretty cool I had not really considered the great importance of the parables before this. I knew they had life lessons but I did not fully connect the dots that in telling those stories Jesus was communicating how he wanted us to begin to function and live as his followers and citizens of the Kingdom of God.
So in Matthew 13
...like an man who sowed good seed but while he slept an enemy sowed weeds. - hows that handled?
...like a mustard seed - the smallest becomes the largest
...like the yeast or leaven in bread - a little permeates the whole loaf
...like a treasure that man finds hidden in a field - what does he do?
...like a merchant looking for choice pearls - when he finds one how does he respond?
...like a net, that was casts in to the sea, when pulled in the good and the bad is sorted
...unless you become as little children ... you can’t enter the Kingdom of God
Luke 17 ...the kingdom of God is within you
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world:
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 gives some good things to begin to live into.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but might before God to the casting down of strongholds) 5 casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every though into the captivity to the obedience of Christ.
All these things help us begin to realize that God does not do things the way we have always done them in our carnal life before accepting and believing in Jesus. He holds out to us the example of his own life. I see him reaching out to the broken, the outcast, the forgotten, the demon possessed, and a bunch of guys that needed purpose and a reason for getting up in the morning. I think it is interesting that all those guys were willing to die for what they believed. Almost all of them were killed and martyred. Presumably they were given the opportunity to deny him at that point and live but they are rock solid even in the face of torture and looming death.
Jesus poured into them his way of life and the principles of the kingdom in the Sermon on the mount and in the many stories he told and by how he lived and walked among them. He promised he would raise from the dead, he promised to send the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them and us into all truth. He delivered all he said he would do. They were secure in their belief, had it been mere folly these people would have chosen life over the cruel deaths most of them faced.
What does this all mean to you and I?
It means we need to begin to allow the Lord to transform our lives.
Perhaps you will take the time to read through some of those The Kingdom is like... passages and consider how you might apply those truths to your life.
This is how we do life in the kingdom: In the kingdom of heaven we forgive, we go the extra mile, we race to the cross when we mess up, give sacrificially, we pray for others, we turn the other cheek. we die and we get life. Those are just some of the things that come to mind about how the culture of the kingdom works.
Would you give us great insight as we seek you in your Word, help us to see some ways that we can become more allow the culture of your Kingdom way of living to be more evident in our lives. Thank you for your Holy Spirit leading and guiding us into all truth. We ask for your wisdom as we read these passages about the Kingdom. Help us to be doers of your word and not just those who hear but choose not to respond.
(PS. Sorry I'm running a bit late in getting this posted today. Thanks for your patience)