Advancing the Kingdom of God

August 19, 2021
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Advancing the kingdom of God was the mission of Jesus. Throughout His ministry (from the time of His inaugural sermon in Mark 1 to His ascension in Acts 1), Jesus declared that His powers and wisdom were the results of His citizenship in the kingdom.

In Matthew 13, Jesus shared seven parables describing various attributes of the kingdom of God. In Acts 1, after His resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus continued to teach and remind His disciples about the kingdom. The rest of the book of Acts is the story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who continues Jesus’s mission.

The book of Acts ends with the apostle Paul in Rome on house arrest, “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered” (Acts 28:31).

The kingdom of God was so central to Jesus’ life and ministry that when His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, He included “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) as something they should request of the Father (For more specifically on the Lord’s Prayer, I’d suggest my book Brilliant: Unleashing Life Through the Lord’s Prayer).

The priority of kingdom advancement in Jesus’ prayer was a manifestation of its priority in Jesus’ life. The same should be true of us. The prayer and priority of our lives should be kingdom advancement. We are to engage in it every day, the way that Jesus did. As individuals, parents, family members, employees/ employers, friends, and whatever additional roles and platforms our Father gives us, our mission is to advance His kingdom in the war that we’ve been awakened to.

The reality of the war we’re in, and the priority of the kingdom of God, explains so much of our experience in life. I regularly meet people who are struggling to understand where God is during their storm, their battle. Joining with the psalmist, they question, “Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His lovingkindness ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever?” (Psalm 77:7–8). At the heart of their cries is Why? “Why is God is allowing this to happen?”

Having sat with many people in their pain, I’ve often been allowed to ask them about their understanding of the war in which we live. The answer of the wounded is almost always the same: “I had no idea we are in a war.”

The sad reality is that war is unjust. War is unfair. Bombs drop and bullets fly from any and every direction. What’s more, we are all involved, fighting either for or against God’s kingdom. No one is left out. And there is no place on Planet Earth where one can escape it.

To live in the rest that Jesus promised requires awakening to the war that Jesus came to fight. Jesus didn’t live at rest because the enemies of God took it easy on Him. They never told Him, “Hey, we know we’ve been kind of tough on Your people for the past few thousand years, so we’re going to leave You alone for a while.” That’s absurd. Jesus lived at rest because He lived at war.

Rest is not the absence of conflict; rest comes as we learn to apply the victory Christ won, the victory that is already ours, to the daily battles we fight.

I hate that we live at war. I wish Jesus would come back and end all this suffering and conflict. Nevertheless, like it or not, we are in a war between two kingdoms, and we don’t get to choose whether our lives or the lives of our loved ones are affected by that war. They are.

What do you understand about the kingdom of God? About the significance of the role of the kingdom in your life? To deepen your awareness of its relevance, ask the Holy Spirit to give you clarity as to its priority and meaning. Write down what He shows you.

This Blog is an excerpt from my book, BE: The Way of Rest. It is available from our website or from Amazon.

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