Summary: There has never been wide-spread agreement regarding a description of the Kingdom of God. Yet, what do we do about this important subject? Read on.
August 11, 2013
The farmer’s son was returning from the market with the crate of chicken’s his father had entrusted to him, when all of a sudden the box fell and broke open. Chickens scurried off in different directions, but the determined boy walked all over the neighborhood scooping up the wayward birds and returning them to the repaired crate. Hoping he had found them all, the boy reluctantly returned home expecting the worst
“Pa, the chickens got loose,” the boy confessed sadly, “but I managed to find all twelve of ‘em.”
“Well, you did real good, son,” the farmer beamed. “You left with seven.”
Expectations can be difficult to deal with. The boy in this story expected there to be a dozen chickens in the box, so he went after his expectation and not his father’s. The same happens to Christians who are given life-goals and expected to live to them. Still, the lesson is applied that we get what we expect; great expectations, great results.
Then there are the expectations of God, our Father. When we attach His desires for us and accept what He has made ready to give, the result is most often surprise that so much has been there for us all along. Luke 12:32 begins our featured scripture by relaying words of Messiah, “Don’t be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Wow! Did you get that?
The Kingdom of God is an amazing but an often misunderstood concept. Confusion begins in some minds with the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy Kingdom come,” that is misconstrued to mean the second coming of the Christ, when the Great Teacher will sit on a throne and rule the world with an iron fist and force all our enemies to see Messiah as we see Him. This forced-harmony idea, however, goes against God’s gift of free will, loving God because we want to and not out of fear. The forced-understanding concept would necessarily mean that only one group of right fighters will actually be correct. Today, every dogma can bask in their feeling of rightness, but how would such wide-spread differences of opinion square with Yeshua on a throne? If a person, group or denomination thinks they are absolutely right, will they argue their point-of-view before a King Savior, much like a trial in the U.S. Supreme Court? Do we think Immanuel will judge a collective thought, or individual actions?
Since Jesus made the statement, “…for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” he must not have been referring to some distant event meant to settle scores between believers. The Kingdom, then, is not about right fighting, but right living with each other.
Luke 17:20 and 21 helps us understand a bit better. Once again, we are quoting the Master, “the kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, none will then say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
In spite of what the Christ said, there are many who feel that the kingdom has not been accomplished until every person on earth is a unified believer. This idea does not line up with the quote in Luke 17 that I just read.
A kingdom is “a realm associated with or regarded as being under the control of a particular person or thing.” The Greek understanding comes from bas-il-i’-ah, which indicates realm, and is a derivative of Greek for, the notion of a foundation of power or sovereign. Note the word’s similarity to the one used to mean the Roman Catholic seat of power, Basilica. To further refine, “realm” means a community or territory over which a sovereign rules. Applying these understandings to our lives relative to “the Kingdom,” we see that as a community of believers, all involved look to the seat of our individual power—source of our strength, Master of the Universe and controller of our actions, thoughts, motives, reactions and lives. If there is one source of control, how can disunity have such rule over our actions and worship? Is it fair to say that living in the kingdom of God means unity among its subjects?
Perhaps you have seen a family situation where siblings are arguing while a parent is trying to tell both something important? If the kingdom plan is for unity of understanding and love, how is it that we are so divided? Our desire to be right is crowding out the message. No wonder it’s the Father’s “good pleasure” to give us the kingdom. No doubt, the Father desires unity of purpose.
Now, verse 33 has the Master focusing on the importance of being a part of the kingdom compared to things. He said, “Sell your possessions and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” This directive is not given to everyone or a crowd, and certainly not the apostles, because they had already sold everything to follow Messiah. These words were directed at the seventy we previously discussed. (See Acts 1:15 and Matthew 6:19) The point being made by Messiah was that stuff on earth does not make up the kingdom of God. By converting your possessions to currency and giving alms, means your deeds are given from compassionateness as a benefactor to lift another, much like God gives to each of us. Such action involving earthy things, such as money, is not out of line with the kingdom of God, because when you give you are acting on God’s behalf to allow needs, such as hunger, to be met so the soul can be free to participate in the activities of the kingdom. Alms does not involve enabling someone to participate in destructive behavior, but in the things of God and His will.