"Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.'" (John 18:36, NAS95) Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus stood before Pilate discussing the truth of His Kingship. For me, this passage held keys to unlock many things over time. Actually, crossing an ocean helped as I had to learn a new language, a new transportation system, and new cultural habits, even at the emotional level. Jesus here states the same thing by indicating His Kingdom does not operate in the same way that the world does, in particular, the world in the way man has ordered it. As for me in Poland, many things caught me by surprise, but unless I learned to live in accord with my host culture, life would only be frustrating, not flourishing.
Over time God has used this passage and others to shape my understanding and practice of living in God’s Kingdom. In order to flourish, I have had to acquire new habits, adjust ways of thinking and living, grow in understanding Jesus and how He both lived and represented Kingdom life. None of this came quickly. My prayer life has moved over time from a monologue list of things to ask God to do for me, to a prayerful, interactive attention to His presence, revolving around His desires. This includes what He might be saying to me through the Word or circumstance at any point in time. Moving this direction meant imbibing Scripture so it indwells and shapes me by His Spirit. I’ve also learned that the culture of the Kingdom reflects or emanates God’s kind of love (not permission) and that His-kind-of-love is the commerce of the Kingdom. I can even point to times where God repeatedly reminded me of passages over extensive periods of time to shape my ability to be open to Him, hear His voice, and respond in obedience. In fact, that last one, responding in obedience, has become the game-changer for understanding His Kingdom and how it works.
The long and short of it concerns becoming open to and embracing the ways of God’s Kingdom. The nearness and availability of God, His loving, embracing and empowering presence has captivated me and my heart. There is no better place to live on earth than in communion with my King. He defines the word love and Kingdom culture. Growing in the ways of Christ’s Kingdom has removed much frustration and allowed me to trust that He wants my flourishing even more than I do. Truly, His Kingdom is not of this realm! Father, I pray, keep me open to Your presence and rule. May Your Kingdom come to others through me!
Warmly in Christ, Doug Mitts
"The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all." (Psalm 103:19, NIV11)
What does opening yourself to God’s ways and embracing them mean to you?
How do you internalize growing in the ways of God’s Kingdom?