Summary: The Kingdom of God promises blessings are available to us NOW! We are all able to affirm our citizenship of the kingdom of God and claim the promises of that Kingdom today.
Today is Australia Day, today is the day that we celebrate our citizenship of this great country and also welcome new citizens into our fellowship. I don’t know whether you have seen this on the news but the Prime Minister, in an attempt to drum up nationalistic and patriotic sentiment has proposed an Oath that might be taken on Australia day by All Australians… It says…
We are Australian. We stand here proudly; brave strong, open and tolerant. We stand here equal, fair, true and free. Together we will build a future, but we will not forget the past. We will stand together. We are Australians.
New Citizens Pledge:
As an Australian citizen,
I affirm my loyalty to Australia and its people,
Whose democratic beliefs I share,
Whose rights and liberties I respect,
And whose laws I uphold and obey.
The Government though the citizenship office is encouraging people to get together, even if they are already citizens and hold themselves an ‘Affirmation Ceremony’ where they recite and affirm this pledge.
This morning as we think of all the wonderful things there are that go with being citizens of this fantastic country I would like to take a look at another country… Another nation, or as the scripture puts it… another kingdom. You see this other country has no borders, and yet we are all in it and it has a King who you cannot see. I am of course speaking of the Kingdom of God. Over the next few weeks we are going to explore the kingdom of God, or as St Matthew labelled it: the Kingdom of Heaven. We are going to look at the Meaning of “Kingdom of God”. We are going to look at what the requirements of citizenship, we are going to look at the benefits of entry, and we are going to look at the codes and responsibilities.
Well, there are a number of ways the Kingdom of God is talked about, In the first three Gospels the kingdom of God is mainly spoken about in the future tense, that is it is something that is going to happen but hasn’t yet. John on the other hand talks about the kingdom being here and now. So what is it? What is the kingdom of God?
The kingdom of God is that place in our lives that is given over to God’s authority, that is, the person who has submitted themselves to the authority of God is in the kingdom of God.
What is a kingdom? It is generally a piece of land in which all the people are under the supreme authority of the King (or Queen), the king can decide every part of their lives, he can make them work, make them rest, make them clean, make them do just about whatever he wants. Have any of you heard of a computer game called the SIMs? In it you basically just control people, their daily routine if you want to, their relationships, build families, their work life etc… In a way, a medieval king had similar control over the people in his kingdom. In reality the king didn’t exercise that amount of control or power; he let the people manage their own lives to a large extent.
See we are used to talking about kingdoms as a piece of land, but the main thing about the idea of a kingdom is that the King has all authority, there doesn’t necessarily need to be any land talked about. In the kingdom of God, there is no ‘land’ but only people who are under God’s authority. But turn with me to John Chapter 18, here we have the arrest, questioning and trial of Jesus…
29So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
30“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
31Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected. 32This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
33Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”37“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”