The time had come for the “Kingdom of the heavens” (as Matthew puts it) to invade the kingdom of darkness on this earth and shine its light into human hearts, “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6).
This is part two in a series about Jesus’ subversive kingdom. Last time, we saw how this kingdom is not about when we die and go to heaven, but right now…in this world.
Jesus’ kingdom comes to turn the world upside-down (Acts 17:6). But if we wish to be participants thereof, we must allow Him to turn our world upside-down first. This happens when we open our hearts to Him and put our minds on the potter’s wheel to be re-formed and reshaped, until we don’t just believe in Jesus, we believe like Jesus (1 Cor.2:16).
What thinking needs to be re-formed?
At the most basic level, three things need to change about how we think and act.
First, that we can’t keep eating from the wrong Tree. We must eat from the “Tree of Life” (Jesus). We must give up the right to be judge and jury and let Christ point His finger at our lives instead of us pointing it at everyone else.
Second, we must learn to live according to knowledge. But knowledge is not information. It’s rightly understanding reality. The problem is, we don’t live according to reality, we live according to our perception of reality. And while truth itself is objective, our understanding of truth is subjective.
Furthermore, reality isn’t defined or framed by cultural Groupthink. For instance, the ancient Greek and Roman cultures believed pederasty was honorable; the reality is, it’s an abusive sexual objectification of children. For thousands of years, cultures saw the enslavement of human beings as a property right; the reality is, it’s oppressively callous and abhorrently evil. To ignore reality in favor of popular culture leads to futile thoughts and darkened hearts (Rom.1:21).
Since our “reality” is subjectified by perception and culture, it must be framed by Christ Himself (Col.1:16-17). To abide in His word is to be His disciple, which leads to truth and transformation (John 8:31-32). For He himself is the truth, the way, and even our life (John 14:6). To the degree we understand this reality, and walk in it, we live according to knowledge. And this “walking in it” brings up the third thing.
While salvation is the free gift of God, it doesn’t follow that grace is passive. We must exercise grace through faith (Eph.2:8). As James said, while we’re not saved by our works, our actions prove (or disprove) what we actually believe (James 2:14).
We cannot be a disciple of Jesus passively. We must be intentional. We were all called to cooperate with Christ and participate in His kingdom activities on the earth.
God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. (Eph.2:10 MSG *)
This “joining in the work He does” is “entering the kingdom of the heavens.”
Why should this be important to us?
This is critically important to us as believers because if we don’t follow Christ and allow His subversive Kingdom to shape us, we will be shaped by the culture around us. Paul makes what Jesus was saying in Mark 1:15 even clearer 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. (Rom.12:2 *)
As Bill Johnson said, “The renewed mind is to work in conjunction with heavenly realities so that they can become manifest on the earth. It’s the renewed mind by which God manifests His Kingdom, His rule.” As I talked about in “Being led by the Spirit and road construction,” the renewed mind is the “roadway” by which these Kingdom realities travel.
And not knowing this has created a crisis in Western Christianity. We’ve been making converts but not disciples. And because we’re not making disciples, we have people professing to be Christians but not looking anything like Christ. His Kingdom realities are not manifesting in and through them, so our world is not being set free from Satan’s construct.
We will need to end here. To be continued next time…