Our Defining Priority (2)
His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1.3, 10, 11
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1.13, 14
Entrance to the Kingdom
God has called us to His Kingdom, to dwell in His Presence in a holy spiritual realm of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14.17, 18). There, seeing His glory in the face of Jesus continuously (2 Cor. 4.6; Col. 3.1-3), we reflect and refract that glory through our words and deeds, thus expressing and extending the rule of King Jesus—His Kingdom presence—into every place we go with everyone we meet.
We have been called to the Kingdom and glory of God, and all who believe in Jesus, all to whom the Spirit has brought new life, new hope, and new faith, have heard that call and have become citizens and ambassadors of God’s Kingdom.
Yet God continues calling us into His Kingdom and glory day by day, reminding us that there is more to know of His holy and righteous and good Law, more to experience of His Presence with us always, more to express of His fruit and power, more to do in making His Good News known, more for us to achieve in realizing the presence, promise, and power of His Kingdom, and more in the way of thanks and praise to spring up to God because of the grace He shows us day by day (2 Cor. 4.15).
God calls us continuously into a wider entrance and greater realization of His Kingdom presence. But if we would realize that end, we must give all diligence to make that calling sure. That is, we must be sure of that calling in ourselves, and we must make sure that our calling is reflected in our lives. Being sure about this calling to the Kingdom and glory of God doesn’t just happen. We must, as Peter wrote, “be even more diligent” at whatever enables us to be sure about it. There are “things” to do that will help us gain ever deeper and more glorious entrance to the Kingdom of God, and that keep us from stumbling along the way in our desire to possess this realm to which God continues to call us.
A strange and glorious new existence
One of my favorite scenes in all film is when, in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy steps out of her storm-tossed, ruined, black-and-white home into the technicolor splendor of Oz, and says to her dog, Toto, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Imagine what she must have felt! Surely she was filled with wonder and perhaps some trepidation. Step by step she left her old world behind and began to venture forward into the new and wondrous world around her. The more she learned, the more of it she longed to know, and the greater entrance to it she hoped to achieve, even risking her life to get to the very heart of that glorious realm, there to go even beyond it to her highest hopes and aspirations.
She was sure she was in a new and wondrous place, and she gave all diligence to be even more sure of it.
Are you sure you have been called to the Kingdom and glory of God? Are you sure? Are you giving all diligence, taking up all those necessary disciplines and walking the yellow brick road of daily obedience to make your calling and election sure?
Many of us, I fear, are like the wicked witch on whom Dorothy’s home landed after the tornado carried it away. We’re in the new Kingdom, sort of, but we’re buried under the burdens and baggage of our former life. We’re only “mostly dead” (The Princess Bride), but we’re hardly enough alive to even know that we have been conveyed into a whole new realm of existence.
And that lamp-lit path where the light of God’s Word directs us into a deeper, richer Kingdom experience? Well, we hardly ever consult it, so busy are we trying to get out from under our daily challenges and make sense of the detritus of our lives.
“Are we…in the West?”
Night Crossing (thanks to our daughter Ashley for digging out this title), a film from 1982, related the true story of how a group of East Germans escaped to the West in a hot air balloon. When they landed, they weren’t sure where they were, so they asked those who rushed up to their balloon, “Are we…in the West?”
Happily, they were.
What about us? Are we in the Kingdom of God? Does your life feel like you’re in the Kingdom of God? Like the world around you glistens with the prospect of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit? And you are on an adventure taking you deeper and more completely into the rule of King Jesus day by day? Is your life filled with wonder, love, and praise at the new world unfolding before you? And are you seeking to realize more of the presence, promise, and power of that Kingdom as the defining priority of every aspect of your life?
Are you sure about that?
Three reasons can keep us from enjoying and flourishing in the Kingdom presence to which God has conveyed us in Jesus Christ. First, we’ve landed with a holy thud—like Dorothy when the wind died down around her home—but we have not ventured out to see where we’ve arrived. We know some strong Wind of God has blown us into a new world, but we prefer to sit in our black-and-white ruined-but-familiar home and wait to see what happens.
Or, second, we’re not sure where we’ve landed now that God has conveyed us into a new realm. We don’t know what to look for, where to turn, or how to make progress in this new existence. We’re in “the West”, but we don’t know what to expect because we don’t know what we’re supposed to do.
Or, finally, we may think we have come into the Kingdom of God, but we’re only there by association, and not really. We have Christian friends, we go to a Bible-believing church, and we’re even active in some of the life of our congregation. But the Kingdom isn’t real to us, and we’re not aware of being daily called to a deeper experience of it because we’ve never truly entered the Kingdom in the first place.
For all three of these reasons we need to take a closer look at what we mean by the Kingdom of God.
For reflection or discussion
1. If you heard God calling you deeper into His Kingdom, to what would He be calling you?
2. To what “things” are we supposed to “give all diligence” so that we can be sure of our entrance to the Kingdom of God?
3. Where do you seem to spend most of your time, in the kingdom of this world or the Kingdom of God? Explain.
Next steps – Preparation: What tells you that you are living in the Kingdom of God? How does your experience of the Kingdom show through in your life? Devote a special time of prayer to meditating on these questions, listening for the Lord to answer and guide you.
T. M. Moore
A companion book to this study of “Kingdom Presence” is available at our bookstore. Learn more and listen to an excerpt from The Kingdom Turn, by clicking here. Then order your free copy.
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