October 19, 2016

The World vs. the Kingdom

Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:33–36)

Pilate seemed ambivalent. He was intrigued with Jesus and not eager to put Him to death, but he also was worried about losing his position of power. He wanted to please the Jews and avoid any appearance that he had lost control in the realm where he ruled.

As I read this passage, I thought about Jesus’ character. He shows no fear concerning His arrest. Pilate must have wondered at the calmness of this man. What made Him tick?
The disciples were often puzzled too. Jesus calmed the stormy waters and they wondered what sort of man was this. Who can speak to the weather and make it behave?

On another occasion they went for food and came urging Him to eat, but he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” They figured someone had brought Him food, but He said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:31–34) This was another puzzle. What was He talking about?  

From childhood to the grave, most of us are trying to figure out how the world works. Our heads eventually become full of adages, philosophies, even songs and stories as attempts to explain things, like how to be happy, how to make money, how to form relationships, and so on. Book stores are full of practical ways to run my life, even how to live my Christian life. I once asked a Christian book store owner, “If people read the Bible more, would you go out of business?” He was horrified.

As Chambers says, there are many conceptions of how Christians should do things, but the emphasis is often on the wrong thing. The kingdom of God is not from this world nor is it like this world. Jesus said “The kingdom of God is within you” and it is that inner life with God that give me both power and direction.

Every time I take my marching orders come from the world, I get caught up in the rush of activity that the world seems to regard so highly. My to-do list gets out of control and my motivation slips from pleasing God to whatever seems to fit the need of the moment.

Instead, I am to be like Jesus. He was busy, but He did exactly what the Father told Him, no more and no less. He trusted the Father to engineer His circumstances, to allow whatever challenges He would face, and to give Him what He needed to do what He wanted Him to do. He lived in an entirely different kingdom from the one that tells me I need to do this, avoid that, and do such and such if I want to be successful.

The kingdom life is as Chambers says. Living according to it, I must be rooted and grounded in the King, not in the ideas and methods the world develops. Even the church can get sucked into the world’s idea of ‘success’ — such as ‘bigger, better, and more.’

When I take my cues from Jesus, people might think I am totally bonkers, but those who understand the kingdom will support and encourage me because they too have been soaking up the mind and will of God and will understand what it means to rely on Jesus and be obedient to the amazing principles of His kingdom.

1 comment:

Darrell said...

“We must get rid of the plague of the spirit of this religious age in which we live. In our Lord’s life there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others.” – Chambers

We must beware of treating our spiritual life as though it were a “photo-op.” Jesus said there were great rewards for those who tend to the “closet” of their lives—the inner chamber of the spirit man (Matthew 6:5-21). Real RELATIONSHIP is not forged in the public eye, but in the quiet soulful obscurity of COMMUNION. It is the quiet place, where His whispers are heard and recognized. It is when we’ve tended to this kind of life, that the works of our hands become eternally useful.