Sunday, July 06, 2008

# 256: The Kingdom of God is Within You

I was inspired to explore this profound truth and the depth of implications it can reveal even though I do not feel qualified to do so. Regardless of how inadequate I feel, I must start.

The basic truth it suggests is that the love, holiness and all other Godly attitudes which are in God’s kingdom in heaven are available to anyone on earth who—through faith, love and obedience—are genuine disciples of Christ. That would make our planet a place where God and His holiness abide through His children. That, by all means, is the loftiest goal anyone can strive for. But is that even possible? Yes. The answer is that no matter how much we do to promote the cause of Christ, we could do more. There are no limits in experiencing God’s goodness. This tells me that we as God’s children have our work/obligation cut out for us.

The aforementioned statement says that when we are in the company of a truly Godly person, we are in the midst of God’s kingdom. It is like being in the presence of Jesus Christ. We are vibrant, active ambassadors for God. That leaves no room for goofing off.

Colossians 1:22. “. . . the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you the hope of glory.”

Could there be a more splendid lifestyle? Absolutely not. Then what are we waiting for? Let us get our butts off the couch and make this holy goal a reality. It won’t be easy to even start on this path of God’s holiness, and thus fulfill Scripture and our spiritual potential. By the way, with the Spirit’s help, it will take every bit of spiritual backbone we can muster up. Let us not forget that the more difficult the challenges life gives us in accomplishing our Godly potential, the greater the glory for God, Jesus Christ and all His holy ones. This and only this will display to all that the kingdom of God is really in us. We are the only ones who will be qualified to tell the world, by our lives and words, the grandeur of living, empowered by the kingdom of God which is within us. Never forget this promise: 2 Peter 1:4. “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world by evil desires.” Also a promise of confidence: Philippians 1:6. “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”

The first thing we must do is to get intimately familiar with all the instructions in the New Testament so that we, through our second nature, know what we must do and not do. Of course, we can only do this with the help of the Holy Spirit. Without God’s Spirit we are nothing in God’s sight and can do nothing, regardless of how much some “Christians” may shout to the contrary.

Acts 17:11: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

Only thing, there is one pending difficulty: our sinful human nature. It is strong and desires its own way, not that it can’t be subdued. Here are a few tips that will help us be victors: Separate ourselves from the attitudes and desires the people of this world have. This won’t happen overnight. The best way to do this is to fill ourselves with spiritual matters, to the point where we won’t have the time and hopefully the desire to engage in them.

Colossians 3:1-2. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

The hardest activity to conquer will, most likely, be television. The vast majority of programs on TV are ungodly junk, even on public television. Another thing is to break ourselves from worldly activities, which have nothing to do with acquiring holiness. This will be more difficult if there are children/child in the family or a non-Christian spouse.

1st John 2:15-16. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

One of human nature’s strongest desires is to be “king of the hill.” Being a disciple of Christ, taking the lowest place, is what we must strive for and be servant of all. This type of attitude doesn’t sit well with Americans who have been taught to go for the highest place. The reason for this attitude is that humility never comes from the ones on top. The display of humility is love, and love without humility is a sly form of arrogance.

Matthew 18:1-5. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child and had him stand among them. ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”

Also, Mark teaches the same principle in 9:35. “Sitting down, Jesus called the twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and servant of all.’”

We must learn to do for others instead of wanting others to do for us. I will use a play on words spoken by President John F. Kennedy: Ask not what God can do for you; rather, ask what God can do through you for others. 1st Corinthians. 6:20. “You are not our own; you were bought at a price. . . .” In other words, let us not be concerned how our standing is with Christ; rather, let us be concerned with how others are doing with Christ. Genuine Christianity is to make a whole hearted effort to cater to the spiritual and material needs of others. After that we can care for our own needs. This teaching may sound strange to some, but remember, it comes from the kingdom of God that lives within us, and is not of this world.

Philippians 2:3-5. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

We must love where love is not deserved; they are the ones who need it the most. Only one thing, if we listen to our human intellect, they are the ones we may resist helping, for one reason or another.

Ephesians 4:22-24. “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

As most of us can tell, if and when the kingdom of God is within us, it will not be your typical Christian life as we see it in America or the world. It is a life where self is left behind and God’s Spirit is brought to life.

1st Corinthians 15:58. “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know your labor in the lord is not in vain.”

Living life when the kingdom of God is within us is likened to putting money into God’s bank. What I am getting at is this: Are all the aforementioned edicts absolutely necessary to get to heaven? I will answer that strawman question this way: It all depends on where a person stands. Is one living for God’s interest or for self-interest? There is no in-between. We are either for Christ or against Him. And to have love for Christ means we will make every possible effort in every possible way to live to the point where we can honestly say, “Iit is not I who live but Christ lives in me.” That is exactly what the apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

When we have the kingdom of God within us, it will be our desire to please God in everything we say, do and think. Of course, as mentioned previously, we must know what we are required to do and not do in order to please Him. That knowledge can come from only one source: the New Testament, and not so much from what religion per se teaches us.

There is one conundrum of sorts: Regardless of how much effort we make in pleasing our God and Father, we who have the kingdom of God within us will at all times be in the constant need of more and more of God’s grace and mercy; the holier we become, the more we will be aware of that need. That is not an excuse for compromise, but to live our lives in the holiest and purest way possible. The Christian meaning of holiness is to separate ourselves from as many things and attitudes as possible that do not enrich our relationship with Christ. If we do compromise our efforts, others will be adversely affected who hold us as role models.

I will leave you with several more New Testament verses which imply the greatness of living in the kingdom of God, which is within us.

1st John 4:12. “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

Galatians 4:19. “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of child-birth until Christ is formed in you.”

Ephesians 5:1-2. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us . . .”

1st Thessalonians 3:13. “May he strengthen your heart so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”

In conclusion, this post can be condensed into one paragraph: When we have the Holy Spirit of God actively living in us, we will live in such a holy way which assures us, and is confirmed by God’s Spirit, that the kingdom of God is within us. It is an actual prelude to eternity in which we experience the Godly ecstasy of the kingdom of God/heaven on earth. It must be experienced to be known, just as much as the joy of love making cannot be known until sexual maturity is reached. Amen.

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