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Living in the Kingdom of God…
We, as believers, are dual citizens and live in two kingdoms. We have temporal citizenship in this world, or so it seems, maybe as a citizen of the United States or whatever country you may be from. But more importantly, we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, citizens in His eternal Kingdom that has no equal. And both kingdoms have rules, make demands, and pull us in opposite directions.
Promises empower one Kingdom. And the other kingdom is full of disappointments.
Note: For a faith exercise and to experience how God’s Kingdom operates, try beginning in Matthew and write down every promise given to you as a child of your loving Father. Start with the Sermon on the Mount. And then align your life in such a way as to live by those promises, to see if they are true or not. What you will soon discover is this earthly kingdom, the fallen kingdom of this world, never keeps its promises. Yet every promise in God’s Word is as true and steadfast as the King Himself. This revelation alone should help you see the waste and futility of one kingdom and the infinite value of the other.
But for most of us, we try to find our success and happiness in this world by doing what this world rewards. We work to make money, and then more money so that we can buy worthless stuff. We want people to like us, so we become like them and like what they like, just to be accepted. And if we are not happy, we will move heaven and earth to change things and rearrange our reality in our vain attempt to make us happy. Not realizing the source of all happiness lives in us, and we are already accepted, loved, and liked by the King of king and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16).
Unfortunately, this is how many believers live their allotted days in life, chasing after trinkets and toys and things that pass away in time.
But that’s not how those live who desire the Higher Christian Life. For them, all the transitory and temporary things of this world mean nothing compared to what is eternal and infinite. They reason, “If I will live for only 70 or 80 years and then die and leave everything behind, yet spend eternity in heaven, why would I not focus more on heaven while living on earth? Why would I devote my life to something I cannot take with me and slight what I can never lose?”
Or, as Jim Elliot wrote in his journal on October 28, 1949, seven years before he was martyred as a missionary to the Auca tribes in Ecuador:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
So how can we live in His Kingdom without listening to the deceptive and demanding voices of this world? And how can we live in such a way as to daily experience the Higher Christian Life?
While Living in the Kingdom of this World
Logic states there are two ways to be successful. First, find someone who is successful and where you want to be and do exactly what they did to get to where they are. And second, find someone who is a dismal failure, someone you never want to be, and do the exact opposite of what they did to make them what they are. Logically, either path should work and point you in the right direction.
So let’s take the first path and follow the example of Paul, who obviously lived in the experience of the Higher Christian Life. Consider what he did and how he lived:
But what things were gain to me (in this kingdom), these I have counted loss (why) for Christ (and His Kingdom). Yet indeed I also count all (pas) things loss (why) for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, (for what purpose)
(1) that I may gain Christ
(2) and be found in Him, (how) not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, (namely) the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may
(3) know Him and the
(4) power of His resurrection, and the
(5) fellowship of His sufferings,
(6) being conformed to His death, (why) if, by any means,
(7) I may attain to the resurrection from the dead – Philippians 3:7-11.
Do you see the trade Paul is making? He gladly gives up all he has gained in this kingdom to gain what is beyond description in God’s Kingdom. And what He gained was Christ. To know Him. To be found in Him. To experience the power of His resurrection and share in the fellowship of His sufferings. To be conformed to Him (Rom. 8:29), to live in His likeness (Col. 2:6), to have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), and as a blessed bonus, to attain the resurrection from the dead and experience life eternal with Him. In essence, to be made complete, whole, perfect, and without defect in Him (Col. 2:10).
What a great trade for Paul! He gave up what was worthless and had an expiration date, his life, and received what is perfect and eternal, Christ in him (Rom. 6:11). And, as a great encouragement to us, he began living the perfect and eternal life in Christ while still living on earth. In other words, He experienced the Higher Christian Life and deep, profound intimacy with the Holy Spirit, just as you can today.
So surrender your life to Him and make the trade. You will forever be glad you did.