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Summary: The reason why there is so much muck in the world is due to the battle of the wills. Jesus wants this to be different. But for it to be different—we need to surrender our wills to his wills and be like him.

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The Tale of Two Kingdoms

James 4:1-6

Intro:

Charles Dickens

Tale of Two Cities

Pub. 1859

Historical novel

Around French Revolution end of 18th C

The Two Cities are

i. London and Paris

ii. The Old Paris (before the Revolution) and the New Paris (after)

Thought to be a metaphor for the advancement of civilisation

The story describes human nature and in particular human rebellion as being responsible for the ills of the world – yet redemption is found in sacrifice of one’s own will in order that good triumphs over evil.

Sounds like the story of Christ? Well Dickens played on such themes

James explains this in James 4:1-6

1. Kingdoms in Conflict

The Tale of Two Kingdoms

Deepest human longings are relational

We need other people to feel:

Loved, valued, that we have purpose, to feel secure and to be at peace

Our identity is found in a sense of community

Yet often our relationships are a source of misery as we impose our will on others—or others impose their will on us

History – kingdoms constantly in conflict (e.g. Dickens’s novel)

People choose their own way

When we live this way we hurt those around us

But our behaviour also puts us offside with God

We are in conflict with his kingdom and therefore his will for us

2. Who’s Kingdom Rules?

Jesus was always proclaiming, “The Kingdom of God is near” – Mk 1:15

Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven was explained 150 times in NT

What is meant by kingdom?

“A state or people ruled over by a king or queen” or “a sphere of influence”

Each one of us has our own kingdom or queendom. Or sphere of influence is that we decide what happens in our kingdom—how we treat others

Not necessarily a bad thing—we were created this way

Genesis 1

God gave us dominion/co-rulership over his creation

Care of what we have influence over

ILLUSTRATION: Two and Three Year Olds

John Burke, “Soul Revolution”

First words, “mine,” “let me do it,” “watch me”

Exercising control over their bodies – exerting their will

Little kings push for more territory—throw tantrums when their will is not done

They soon learn that there are other kingdoms to respect as well

As we grow up, your kingdom extends to the sway you have with others at school, or at work, or with your kids or parents.

Burke surmises, “God’s desire is that we should willingly align our kingdoms under the loving rule of his kingdom and exercise our wills under the direction of his loving will.

Stop acting like two year olds and give up our will to dominate or abuse or manipulate or deceive for our own personal gain

3. Kingdom Revolution

The dominant symbol in the French Revolution—guillotine

Many who aligned themselves with the King or the Catholic Church were sent to their deaths by guillotine

Because of the violence associated with it, the guillotine is often met with disapproval

In Dickens’s book, the Tale of Two Cities, the violence committed during the French Revolution is in a sense justified as Dickens is hopeful that the violence will give way to a new and better society.


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