Summary: Living in the Kingdom of God. The Spirit creates the Kingdom by convicting, leading into truth, and glorifying Jesus
Ready Or Not, Here I Come: Spirit and the World
John 16:5-15 May 31/Jun 1, 2003
It is quite something to belong to a kingdom. It provides you with a sense of security, identity, belonging, and recognition. A good kingdom provides for its people – it protects them, acts in their interests, provides essential shared services, and even chooses to fight to secure and maintain their freedom. Although we may not think of Canada as a kingdom, I think Jean Chrétien does. I think perhaps he thinks of it as his kingdom, but let’s not get into that… But by belonging to the kingdom of Canada we are granted numerous rights and privileges, including freedom and security.
In a similar way, belonging to the spiritual Kingdom of God entails for us certain rights and privileges. But here is the key – the further we get from the center of the kingdom, the less we experience the benefits and influence.
Think about it in terms of the medieval city states. If you lived in the city, had a good king and saw the him and heard him speak and experienced him being good and gracious and generous, you would love him. But the further your farm was from the city, the less of an influence the kingdom had on you and on your life. You might occasionally hear about the king, but you wouldn’t know him or be able to really love him. Tax time becomes a burden given with great reluctance and resistance instead of a welcome participation in funding things that are essential to the whole kingdom.
Spiritually it works the same way. If we claim to be part of God’s Kingdom but live a great distance from our King, we experience the same thing: little influence. Little benefit. No sense of connection and love for the King. Giving (if done at all) is a burden and reluctant duty instead of a joyous expression of love and gratitude. And as a result we experience little of the power of the King.
Well, I’m tired of the church living a distance from the center of the Kingdom. Tired of being out in a rural setting feeling like the King is way off at a distance. Tired of feeling powerless and undefended and vulnerable and left out.
And so it is time to move. Time to get closer. Time to fully embrace the Kingdom.
Jesus said – don’t worry about anything. Nothing. Not food. Not clothing. Not security or illness or provisions. Do not worry about tomorrow – because you have a good King. He knows what you need. He will provide it.
Well I’m ready to seek first the Kingdom of God. I want that in my life and for my family. I want that for us as a church. I want that for our community – both immediate here in Laurier Heights but beyond that in the communities that you live in. I long to see the Kingdom of God in its entirety.
Because I know it is good. I’ve tasted it. I’ve glimpsed it. I’ve seen it in you individually as you heard God speak and responded to Him in obedience. I’ve seen it at times as we worship with enthusiasm even though life might be difficult – we choose to enter God’s presence and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. I’ve seen it in our church leaders as we have fasted and sought God, and heard Him say “It’s your heart I care about, not the mechanics of times and worship styles.” I see it in the unconditional love of my wife and my son. I’ve seen it as God speaks words of healing and comfort and correction and guidance. I’ve seen it in teens whose hearts break alongside the poor.
Now I’m not a pure idealist. I recognize that in this life we will not know the fullness of the Kingdom of God like we will after we die and enter His presence. But I’m also not going to let that stop me from being dissatisfied now, and I won’t let that stop me from seeking God’s Kingdom first, and trusting Him for everything else.
Hear my heart cry – it is that we know the presence and the Kingdom of God. That we choose to live as close to the center of the heart of God as we can – that we choose to proclaim Jesus as Lord and live by His word, in obedience and surrender to Him. That we choose to exhibit the greatness of this Kingdom, which is within us, to all those who are not yet citizens of this Kingdom.