Jesus said two things that I’ve been left to ponder. First, in teaching his disciples how to pray, he taught the Lord’s prayer in which the first line has left me speechless. Jesus spoke, “Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.” (Luke 11:2) and then six chapters later, he informed his disciples, “the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21).
Many people read his prayer of “Your kingdom come.” As a reference to the fully manifested kingdom of God on earth during the end times. I disagree with this interpretation. If that were true, Jesus would merely be praying for his own second coming. I don’t think Christ was all too concerned with his second coming, he was focused on what he could do in the here and now. Jesus prayed, for the Father’s kingdom to come now, and he proved it through his ministry by relentlessly meeting the miraculous needs of the people. Even more, when Jesus preached he declared “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near.” (Mark 1:15). When I used to read this passage, I thought he meant the kingdom of God was near, in relevance to time. But Jesus wasn’t saying the kingdom of God, is almost here. He was saying near, in relevance to distance and space. His use of near, referred to the fact that the kingdom was right in their reach because He was present. He then proved it by remaining pure in word, character, and action. He fully displayed the Kingdom of God and revealed the heart of the Father. The Kingdom of God can be seen through the acts of Jesus in the gospels, and still through the ministry of the apostles in Acts. This same gospel of power was never meant to end with the completion of the Bible, that would just turn this beautiful Good News into an empty, powerless philosophy.
He then teaches that the Kingdom of God is within you. This truth deserves some meditation. Instead of waiting in our Christian cube of comfortableness, we have a duty on our lives to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom and to bring heaven to earth through our daily representations of King Jesus. The Holy Spirit, who is God, lives in us, therefore nothing should be deemed impossible to us. I grow unimpressed with ministry that settles with an incomplete gospel. A consistent demonstration of the powerful gospel (1 Corinthians 2:4) I believe, is key to forming Kingdom Culture. And yes, I believe we are Christians are also meant to be key influencers of the culture around us; look to the lives of Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Paul, and of course Jesus. Remaining authentic in our faith and being the salt of the earth, can have a natural effect on our culture, which make the world a better place and brings glory directly to the goodness of our Father.
So practically, what does this look like? What does it look like to live out the gospel fully and bring the kingdom of God to earth? My heart’s desire is that wherever we are placed, we would help form an entire culture that would fall in love with King Jesus, cultivate daily intimacy with Christ, and maintain the fire of Holy Spirit. I think a personal kingdom lifestyle, which should transcend into culture, needs to be complete in character, word, and deed. I don’t believe any of this is attainable without the transformative power of Holy Spirit.
Character: I think it’s important that we, as believers, continue to pray towards the betterment of our character. I’ve met so many lovely non-believers who are constantly put off by the character of Christians, and with what I’ve seen I don’t blame them. We have grown cold, hateful, judgmental, greedy, hot-tempered, selfish, and egotistical. I’m not pointing the finger at any of my brothers or sisters, trust me I’ve got some serious planks in my eye. But I do pray and spend time with God seeking a transformation of my character. We aren’t called to live in our old ways of life, we have been lifted higher.
Word: Jesus knew the scriptures. He knew what he was fulfilling (Luke 4:17) and he knew how to fight satan with the sword of the word (Luke 4:1-13). We too, must spend time in the scriptures. Reading the Bible helps to mold us and guide us. The word of God is always relevant and it is full of love and encouragement. When people complain about not hearing God’s voice, I often encourage them to start with reading the Bible. He still speaks to us through the Bible, and we learn more about who he is through the scriptures. The word of God also keeps us accountable and in alignment to the character of God.
Deed: Character and Word are easy for many to grasp, but for some we lose sight of the importance of Deed. Now when I speak of deed, I believe this refers to both natural, humanitarian efforts (giving money, food, clothing, etc.) but it is also the supernatural acts of the Holy Spirit. Jesus taught us to look after orphans, widows, and to give to the needy – which seems possible in the natural world. But he also taught us to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” This seems difficult, but through the Holy Spirit and with a lifestyle of taking risks, this is beautifully possible.
And what does Kingdom Come look like relationally? In the Kingdom, there is humble leadership, sacrificial romance, encouraging friendship, and graceful service. Financially? In the Kingdom, we give generously, expecting the inheritance of our Heavenly Father who always provides for us with abundance. Creatively? In the Kingdom, the Holy Spirit is our divine inspiration to create beautiful art and technology, helping people connect with God and heavenly realities.
I want to encourage all who read this, to begin to pray to God. Ask him what it looks like for the Kingdom of God to come now, through your life. Seek the Father’s voice, pursue intimacy with Holy Spirit, and advance the kingdom.