The Framework of History (7)
“Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 13.43
The coming of the Kingdom
Perhaps the vast majority of contemporary Christians do not know what their Kingdom-and-glory calling requires of them (1 Thess. 2.12). We know that Paul says we are citizens and ambassadors of a Kingdom not of this world, and that Jesus Christ rules the world in truth and grace from the right hand of the Father on high. But we give little thought to the ultimate disposition or daily requirements of this Kingdom and rule, and of our place and duty in it. We live in the present like people who do not understand the times as Jesus does, and therefore cannot know what we should be doing.
A day of harvest is coming – the full realization of that Kingdom which is even now unfolding within the framework of history. The Son of Man is working to cultivate, sow, and tend the world as His own cherished harvest field. From within His Spirit-filled Church, He is sowing the good seed of the Kingdom of God in the Personal Mission Fields of faithful believers throughout the world. Everywhere that seed finds welcoming soil, it takes root and begins to grow, producing much fruit of righteousness, peace, and joy into all of life and culture (Mk. 4.1-20).
On the final day, when Jesus uproots and condemns the weeds that have ungratefully enjoyed the benefits of living within His Kingdom field, only the righteous will be left; only the good seed of the Kingdom will remain to populate the new heavens and new earth. Thus they will shine with the brilliance of the Lord, without any darkness or sin, radiating, with ever-increasing newness, the glory of God to the ends of the world, forever and ever.
Until that day, however, those whom the Son of Man has sown into His field, and who have taken root and are growing in Him, must resist the incursions of the tares of unbelief, by straining toward abundant fruitfulness in the light of Christ. Lost souls await the Good News of the new era of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit. The creation groans for the redeeming touch of the sons and daughters of God. Cultures on every continent, steeped in the stench of sin, pine for renewal in the grace and truth of God. Our society sinks daily into the miasma of pragmatism and narcissistic whim.
The good seeds of the Kingdom bear the fruit of the Gospel to awaken the stony hearts of those God is pleased to save. Their lives issue in the good works of the holy and righteous and good Law of God, renewing the morals and hopes of communities burdened under the weight of relativism and unbelief. All who love the world as God the Father does (Jn. 3.16), will give those things they cherish most – their time, treasure, comfort, and convenience – as daily offerings for the Son of Man to use in cultivating the field of the world as His Kingdom.
Given that believers have been translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, we must embrace the call to seek the Kingdom of God in all our words and deeds, and force our way, by daily struggle, into the fuller light of its growing presence (Col. 1.13; Lk. 16.16). Kingdom-seeking begins in seeking the Lord, day by day, through the diligent practice of those disciplines and exercises that bring us into the presence of God’s glory. There we may be renewed in the Spirit and transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18). From there we go forth into our daily lives, making disciples as we are going and bringing the glory of God into every detail and opportunity of our daily lives (Matt. 28.18-20; 1 Cor. 10.31).
It is a struggle, true, and one, alas, to which all too many believers seem unwilling to rise.
Content with a narrow understanding of the grace of God, and largely ignorant of vast scope and comprehensive reach of His truth, or the reality of His Kingdom, too many believers practice a shallow contentment with being forgiven, hoping in eternal life, and enjoying the fellowship of their equally shallow Christian friends. They have little stomach for the hard work of prayer and the courageous enterprise of proclaiming and advancing the Gospel of the Kingdom.
So the Church in this country languishes, despite outward appearances, while the tares of unbelieving secularism root and infest and flourish ever more tenaciously on every abandoned or neglected patch of Kingdom soil.
Until the harvest, brothers and sisters, we are called to struggle, not to linger around the campfires of the Kingdom, sharing our cocoa and singing “Kum ba yah” together. We must take to the fields daily, growing in the Lord, sowing His eternal Word, resisting the progress of evil, and living ever forward toward the coming new day.
Let us take up this challenge in full expectation that Jesus, Who administers His Kingdom from on high, will bring it to increasing fullness wherever we follow Him faithfully, in every area of life.
1. Do you think “Kum ba yah” or “Onward Christian Soldiers” defines the attitude of the Christians you know? Explain.
2. What should we do whenever we discover seeds of the world encroaching into the Kingdom soil of our own soul?
3. How do you expect to improve in your struggle to seek and advance the Kingdom of God until He comes?
Next steps – Transformation: What’s one way you intend to become daily more active in growing and sowing with the Son of Man? Share that with a Christian friend, and ask your friend to pray with you.
T. M. Moore
Our Mission Partners Outreach program can equip you to identify and work your Personal Mission Field. Watch this brief video (click here), then find a friend and begin working your part of the Lord’s field more consistently and with greater effects.
For a free PDF of this week’s study, click here.
For a more developed view of the Kingdom, and of the Gospel of the Kingdom, order a copy of our book The Kingdom Turn (click here) or The Gospel of the Kingdom (click here).
We look to the Lord to provide for our needs, and He does so through those who are served by this ministry. Please prayerfully consider becoming a supporter of The Fellowship of Ailbe with your financial gifts. You can send your tax-free contribution to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452, or use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.