The Kingdom of God and Our Citizenship
What do we mean by the Kingdom of God, and how does it relate to the Church?
What is our identity, our place, and our part in the Church?
We can understand what the Kingdom of God is and how it relates to the Church by exploring the following;
The Kingdom of God refers to the realm, domain, or sphere in which God reigns.
The Kingdom of God is central to the Gospel of Jesus and very important to His ministry.
Jesus began His earthly ministry by preaching that the Kingdom of God was at hand (Mark 1:14-15).
He preached the Kingdom that is near us and within us (Luke 10:9; Luke 17:21). He taught His disciples to do the same (Luke 9:2) and, following His instruction, they also preached the Good News about the Kingdom of God (Matthew 10:7; Luke 9:2).
What does the Bible say about the Kingdom of God?
Let’s look further at what the Bible says about God’s Kingdom.
“Yours, O Lord, is the Kingdom” (1 Chronicles 29:11).
“Justice will be the scepter of your Kingdom” (Psalm 45:6).
“His Kingdom is an eternal kingdom” (Daniel 4:3).
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10)
The Kingdom of God is also called the Kingdom of Heaven. God is ruling the entire universe from His throne in heaven. In His Matthew 13 parables, Jesus compared the Kingdom of God with six different things to show the transforming power and value of the Kingdom of God. Jesus compared the Kingdom of God with:
- A man who sowed good seed in his field in the midst of a world filled with evil (Matthew 13:24-30).
- A mustard seed with potential to grow (Matthew 13:31-32).
- Yeast with power to change lives (Matthew 13:33).
- A treasure hidden in a field that is very costly (Matthew 13:44).
- A merchant looking for a great pearl that is precious (Matthew 13:45-46).
- A net that gathers different kinds of fish (Matthew 13:47-48).
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in His name shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
God’s Kingdom is full of Love
Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us a new commandment to love one another as He loved us, to fully represent His Kingdom in this world (John 13:34-35). He wants us to be known by our love for one another.
The distinguishing mark of true Kingdom-minded disciples is the love that they have for one another. Our Lord also said that loving only Christians is not true agape love (Matthew 5:43-48). In His parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus shared His expectations for Kingdom-minded ministers to show genuine kindness and love towards their neighbors, Christian and non-Christian alike (Luke 10:29-37). In the Kingdom of God, our Christian love must extend beyond our brethren in our own church group and even beyond the church community.
Are we reflecting what the Kingdom of God looks like in our relationships with one another and with our neighbors?
How does one enter into the Kingdom of God?
Jesus made it clear that no one can enter into the Kingdom of God without being born again (John 3:3-5). How can one be born again to enter the Kingdom of God? This is the question that Nicodemus asked Jesus. New birth is granted to all who repent of their sin and who both believe and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Matthew 3:2; John 1:12). It is the will of God for everyone to repent and believe in Jesus Christ so that He will grant them new life (2 Peter 3:9; Matthew 7:21; 2 Corinthians 5:17). To receive this free gift of God, we need to be like children (Mark 10:14).
When Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was, Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then Jesus responded, saying:
Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:15-19).
The Benefits Of Citizenship
When we enter into the Kingdom of God, we are given authority with Him. The benefits of citizenship belong only to those who have put themselves under the authority of the sovereign King Jesus. Speaking of Christ, Revelation 17:14 says, “He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.” Therefore, our first allegiance is to our heavenly citizenship rather than our earthly citizenship.
As citizens of the Kingdom, it is great to know our place and identity in Christ (Ephesians 2:5-7; Colossians 3:3-4). “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Seeking the Kingdom
The Kingdom of God is to be sought first. First things come first. Many times we are so concerned about what are we going to do to meet our expenses. What will we eat? Where will we stay? How are we going to pay all of the school fees, electricity bills, medical bills? Jesus says in Matthew 6:31-33, “So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and ALL these things shall be given to you as well.”
As disciples of Jesus, we have dual citizenship—the earthly and the heavenly. The citizen of heaven is an ambassador first and foremost here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are not of this world but are merely aliens on this earth and ambassadors for Christ (John 17:14-19). Before we were born again, we were aliens to God and citizens of this world. But after salvation, we became resident aliens, sojourners in the kingdom of this world. Jesus set the standard of devotion for Kingdom citizens when He quoted the Old Testament passage from Deuteronomy 6:5, declaring this to be the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Therefore, there is no room for anything else in our life except for the Kingdom of God.
No Longer Aliens
In Philippians 3:17-19, Paul contrasts two groups, and the difference between the two lies in the way each lives. He implies that those who are citizens of heaven are characterized by setting their hearts, not on the things of the world, but on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1). The other group consists of “the enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18). They will end in destruction because they have “set their mind on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19). Therefore, we are not of this world but are the citizens of heaven, residing on earth.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of Gods household, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
The Kingdom of God is about righteous living (Romans 14:17)
Righteousness means right standing with God. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). All of our righteous works are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). When we believe in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, repent of our sins, and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins, and God’s righteousness is credited to us (1 John 1:7, 1 John 1:9). We become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Kingdom of God is peace (John 14:26)
Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). God’s peace rules and reigns in our hearts. This does not mean that problems won’t come in our lives, but it does mean that God will give us perfect peace in our hearts that passes all human understanding (Philippians 4:7).
The Kingdom of God is joy in the Holy Spirit
In His presence there is fullness of JOY (Psalm16:11). We will experience this always, even when we go through the valley experiences, because the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, has been given us to be with us always, and He will never leave us alone.
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