Thursday, May 22, 2014

Whose kingdom are you building?

Whose kingdom are you building?

Photo Credit: Jordan Egli Photography
I recently heard Dietrich Schindler, a German church planter, speak on this subject. He talked about how often people, realizing their need for forgiveness and their longing for life after death, will come to Jesus and "invite Him into their lives." They basically say, "Thank you for dealing with my guilt and giving me the hope of eternity. Now won't you bless me and help me to build my kingdom here on earth?"

Jesus shakes his head.

He did not die on the cross and reconcile us to the Father so that we could build our own mini-kingdoms here on earth. He is not interested in being your servant or your genie or your fairy godfather. The King of the universe does not come into YOUR life. You can't contain him! Sure, he sends his spirit to empower and guide us. The Spirit lives IN us, but he does not to live FOR us. He is not given so that we can make our lives better. He is given so that we can participate in building God's kingdom on earth.

How often we talk about the things that God does for us. We'd be fools not to give him honor for his work in our lives. But as he redeems us, he frees us from our myopic, self-serving, mini-kingdom vision and calls us to join in his grace-proclaiming, other-serving, heavenly kingdom work.

Whose kingdom are you building?

It's so easy to become short-sighted. It's tempting to let the pleasures of this world take priority over the kingdom call. It's counter-intuitive to set aside our earthly empires for eternal purposes. I've spent years of my life constructing the kingdom of Jenn, only to see moths and rust (and repeated floods!) eat it away before my very eyes. I've tried to make my name great in the work world and the ministry world, only to see my greatest accomplishments fade into memories that give no satisfaction. The fact is, I wasn't meant to build my own kingdom, I was meant to abandon it.

Jesus is not interested in helping me build my kingdom. He does invite me to help build his.

His kingdom is a holy kingdom, a heavenly kingdom, an eternal kingdom. Its also a costly kingdom. I cannot build my kingdom, and help out with his in my free time. Its an all or nothing proposition. To build his kingdom I have to redirect ALL of my efforts, ALL of my energy, ALL of my gifting, ALL of my resources to him. It will mean tearing down my own kingdom so that everything that I am and everything that I have goes to him.

Whose kingdom are you building?

The question haunts me. Every email I send, every sermon I preach, every dollar I spend, every book that I read, every bit of work I engage in, I hear the spirit ask, "Whose kingdom are you building?"

It's not just a question of what I do, its a question of how I do it, and with whom. When I honestly answer the question, my selfishness, my hidden idols, and my secret, subtle pride are revealed. I become aware of how often my most seemingly spiritual activities are more about making MY name great than making HIS name great. And scripture is clear that all of our works will one day be shown for what they really are.

Whose kingdom are you building?

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