What if I told you that you just won a ticket to take up residence in a land where everything is perfect? No money worries. No strife. No politics. No crime. Everybody loves each other. And whenever you need something, all you have to do is ask and it’s yours! And these are just some of the benefits of becoming a full-fledged citizen under this government.
Sounds inviting, right? Just think of what life would be if we lived there!
The truth is, as soon as you make Jesus the Lord of your life, you do have that invitation. And you are indeed a citizen of a new kingdom (Philippians 3:20). The Kingdom of God!
The problem is that few of us who have that almost too good to be true entitlement really understand it or take advantage of our rights and privileges. I was that way for a long time. But now that I’m learning more and more about it . . . my life has become amazingly better! And the same can happen to anyone. As we know, God is not a respecter of persons. We all have the same opportunities and benefits if we choose to “go there.”
Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:33 that our Father has already made provision for everything we need, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” And a central part of our faith life is learning about the ways of the kingdom and how we “live” there.
Granted, we currently have “dual citizenship.” Jesus prayed to our Father about it, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”
We are still “in the world.” And we have work to do in the “family business.” But our home, the place where our heart and hope can reside, is in the kingdom of God. And we don’t have to wait until we leave this world to access the benefits of our “new birth” rights!
Our kingdom life includes rights, privileges, benefits, protection and complete security. And it also includes laws, systems and duties. Jesus came to earth to set up this new kingdom:
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
And even when Jesus taught the disciples to pray . . . He instructed them to live the kingdom way now, while here on the earth, “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Luke 11:2
When asked where this Kingdom of God would come from, Jesus responded with an answer that most didn’t understand then and most don’t understand now, “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21
So what does that mean for you and me today?
I’ve learned that we first must accept that this kingdom is true and that it is ours. And that we are bonafide citizens with papers to prove it! Look what Paul said, “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” And from what John saw in his vision: “But there shall by no means enter [the new kingdom] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Revelation 21:27
Your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life when you make Jesus your Lord. That’s your legal paperwork to be a full-fledged citizen of God’s kingdom.
Once we have established the truth of the kingdom and our citizenship in it . . . we must live out what Jesus said, “They are in the world, but not of it.” Instead, our life is grounded and based on our first home – our kingdom home. We live from that place while we “operate” in the world. We decide that God is who He says He is. That He will do what He says He will do in His Word. And that means that we can have what He says we can have! Anything contrary to God’s truth is also contrary to us! And why? Because we have rights, privileges, benefits, laws, duties and precept upon which we base all of what we believe and upon which we act!
When we examine our own lives and find areas that are not aligned with God’s ways for the kingdom, then we change. Just like Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” When the word “repent” is translated it means “change.” Change the way you are thinking. Change the way you are living. There is so much more here now because of the kingdom of God. Believe in this good news . . . the gospel! And live this way! Seek first the kingdom of God and His right way of doing things and then you will have everything you need!
His right way of doing things are the teachings of Jesus, who only taught what He already heard from the Father. These are the commandments or the laws of God’s kingdom. And they are all covered in His Word. It’s not the way the world lives . . . it’s a different way of being. Galatians 5:22-26, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
The kingdom of God is the truth . . . and the truth will make you free. You are a member of a new land. The invitation has been issued. All you need to do is accept it, take the hand of your Lord, and live this new life! Just like Paul instructed in Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
And why is the emphasis on “the renewal of the mind?” Because the kingdom of God is within. We need to believe it and then let the truth of God rule our lives . . . our kingdom lives! That is the transformation we go after and that only leads to good.