The Look of the Kingdom
By Pastor Josh Wamble
At our church’s Wednesday and Thursday morning Bible studies a few weeks ago, one of the attenders asked if we could think about what the Bible’s authors mean when they talk about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven. So we did. If you want to read about what this Kingdom of God is like, you can do that here.
Sometimes we are better at recognizing something than we are at describing it. It may be difficult to come up with a good definition of “art,” but most of us can recognize art when we see it. The Kingdom of God is often like this. It has a look to it. We can often recognize the Kingdom of God reigning in someone’s heart even if we are not able to give a detailed definition or description of what all the kingdom consists of. Below, we will look at 15 scenarios from everyday life that exhibit the Kingdom reigning in the believer’s heart.
1. The Kingdom looks like the countless martyrs who have been willing to give up their lives instead of deny the King because they knew that citizenship in the Kingdom is better than life itself.
2. The Kingdom looks like a husband or wife bearing with the weaknesses and failings of his/her partner and faithfully keeping his/her vows even in spite of friends or family who habitually encourage them to divorce because “you deserve to be happy,” “you’re too good for him/her,” “they are not as devoted/committed/faithful” as you, or similar arguments.
3. The Kingdom looks like a husband and wife sitting in a doctor’s office resisting the pressure to terminate their pregnancy through abortion because the yet-to-be-born child has tested positive for Down’s Syndrome, trisomy 13, or some other debilitating genetic disorder or disease.
4. The Kingdom looks like something as simple as a believer who is totally committed to his local church. One of the most counter-cultural things a believer can do is prioritize gathering with other believers to worship, study, and serve together on a regular basis.
5. The Kingdom looks like a young believer who uses his vacation time from his job so that he is available to serve at his church’s VBS or youth camp or to participate in a short-term mission trip.
6. The Kingdom looks like a senior believer who lives on a fixed income but scrapes together money to help support her local church or to send to foreign missionaries so that the Kingdom spreads throughout the world.
7. The Kingdom looks like a “shut-in” believer who is no longer physically capable of regularly gathering with her local church but continues to faithfully pray day in and day out for her pastor, her church, and its ministries.
8. The Kingdom looks like a man and wife leaving the comforts of their home, their families, their friends, and all they have ever known in order to move across the world to different cultures, to learn different languages, to get used to different foods, to endanger themselves with different diseases and sicknesses, and often to risk death, as they devote their entire lives to spreading the gospel of the Kingdom to those who have never heard of the King.
9. The Kingdom looks like a believer who refuses to lie in her normal everyday business life knowing that the refusal to do so will likely prevent her from being considered for a future promotion with all the prestige, power, and financial benefit that would include because she is wholeheartedly convinced that the ethics of the Kingdom bring eternal rewards not even to be compared with their earthly counterfeits.
10. The Kingdom looks like a man who battles dyslexia and stage-fright week in and week out as he studies and thinks and prays for hours and stands before a crowd to preach the gospel week after week, year after year in a small unknown church until he dies in obscurity for the sake of the Kingdom expanding in the hearts of his hearers.
11. The Kingdom looks like a man who is dying of cancer who lives with more joy and peace and contentment than he has at any other point in his life and routinely encourages and strengthens those who visit to encourage and strengthen him and time after time comforts those around him by declaring that cancer is the best thing that has ever happened to him because it has forced him to rely on and trust Jesus more than he ever had at any other point in his life.
12. The Kingdom looks like a dad who, instead of going out to eat or to get drinks with co-workers after a long day of work, rushes home to spend the evening loving/serving/enjoying time with his wife and playing with his kids. It looks like a dad who reads the Bible with his kids and leads his family in family devotions. It looks like a dad who lovingly disciplines his kids so that they would learn self-control and responsibility and rightful authority so that they would develop a rightful, healthy, Biblical fear of the good, merciful, gracious, holy Lord God who lovingly reigns over the subjects of his Kingdom.
13. The Kingdom looks like a mom who sacrifices her time and energy, giving, teaching, loving, disciplining, and caring for her kids. It looks like a mom who regularly reads the Bible with her kids and pours out her heart in prayer on behalf of her kids that they would come to love the God that she does.
14. The Kingdom looks like a man and woman who had been divorced from one another for several years hearing a sermon about divorce, realizing their previous divorce did not have a Biblical justification, and deciding to get re-married as a way to show that their commitment to God and his Word is greater than their commitment to their own convenience. It looks like a renewed commitment and effort to love one another, forgive one another, serve one another, bear with one another, and please one another because they are convinced that their marriage is a picture of the gospel and the relationship between Jesus and his bride—the church.
15. Finally, the Kingdom looks like any number of “regular” mundane people who live their lives constantly giving thanks to God for all that they have, regularly resisting, confessing, and fighting sin, and loyally following Jesus as their Lord, Master, and King.