Four teachings for which we should strive, even if we do not fulfill them:
devotion to God,
gentleness to men,
good will to every person,
expecting death each day.
- Colmán mac Beógnai, Aipgitir Chrábaid, Irish, 7th century
Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God...
- 2 Peter 3.11, 12
I find it helpful to focus on a few key principles, ideas, or objectives as governing motifs for life. The fewer and simpler the better. Some might find these in a verse of Scripture or a quote from a favorite writer. Others might compose a motto that summarizes their purpose in life. I teach a course which I call “One in Twelve” – one worldview represented in twelve diagrams. Everything I know I can teach within those pictures.
The four “teachings” that Colmán mentions in his “Alphabet of Devotion” – devotion to God, love for neighbors (“gentleness” and “good will”), and anticipation of the City to Come (“expecting death”) – are excellent candidates for defining life in the Kingdom of God. In my framework of thought, these translate to disciplines, life outcomes, especially love for God and neighbors, and the vision which motivates and guides these.
It is important to have a clear and compelling vision of the Kingdom, as it comes in our day, and as it will be in its fullness after Jesus returns. Then we can pursue that vision through disciplines encompassing all of life and all our time, always striving, in the power of the Spirit, to grow in love for God and neighbors.
This way of living doesn’t come naturally; it’s necessary to strive for it, to work hard at learning, repenting, taking up new attitudes and practices, and building new priorities, practices, and patterns into our everyday lives.
But that sounds like a lot of work. Why should we do it?
First, of course, because this is the way God made us to live. Concerning outcomes, the entirety of the Law of God as well as the prophets boils down to love for God and neighbor (Matt. 22.34-40).
With respect to vision, Paul says that, since we have been seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2.6), we need to set our minds there (Col. 3.1-3).
Peter adds a little more color and urgency to the situation: Everything is shortly going to be destroyed and then we will face God. We ought to strive (disciplines) to make sure that we’re ready at all times to meet Him and that, when we do meet Him, as John says we will, it will be with a righteousness that is daily approaching what we will possess when finally we see Jesus face to face (1 Jn. 3.1-3).
But sadly, many of those who call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ don’t always strive for such things. Some believers treat salvation – coming to faith in Jesus – as the end point of redemption rather than the beginning. But if “being saved” means only that we’re going to heaven when we die, then it’s quite possible we’re not saved at all. The Gospel, after all, is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and not merely the Gospel of salvation. Those who are truly saved know they have such a great salvation (vision) that they’ll never gain the whole of it in this life (Heb. 2.1-3). Salvation is unto good works (outcomes) – love for God and neighbor – and must be worked out day by day (disciplines) in the Spirit and Word of God.
We will only pursue and strive for this way of life to the extent that we fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, and run the race set before us in pursuit of faithful and loving obedience (Heb. 12.1, 2).
Focus on these three things, while you still have time to strive: A clear and compelling vision of Christ exalted, and of the City to Come; practicing the disciplines necessary for realizing more of that vision here and now; measuring your progress in outcomes of love for God and neighbors.
This is Kingdom living. This is the Kingdom turn. And if you haven’t made it yet, there’s no time like the present.
Because the present won’t be here forever.
1. How would you explain your vision of the Kingdom to a new believer?
2. How can believers help one another to grow in love for God and neighbors?
Psalm 24.1-4 (Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
The earth is the Lord’s, as is all it contains;
the world and its peoples He daily sustains.
He founded it fast on the seas long ago
and bid gentle rivers throughout it to flow.
Oh, who may ascend to the Lord’s holy place?
And who may appear to His glorious face?
All they who are clean in their heart and their hands,
and true in the souls with the Savior shall stand.
Lord, am I striving as I should? Show me how to press on so that I…
Kingdom vision, Kingdom living.
Our book, The Kingdom Turn, can enlarge your vision of Christ and His Kingdom, sharpen your disciplines, and help you be more fruitful in love. Order your free copy by clicking here.
Personal Mission Field
Be sure to check out this month’s “Personal Mission Field Workshop” and learn how to soak in Jesus so that you can squeeze His grace to others (click here).
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T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Carey, p. 241.