The Presence of the Kingdom (5)
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6.10
We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you. 2 Corinthians 10.13
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11.1
Sent and called
Jesus came to earth with a singular mission: To proclaim the coming of God’s Kingdom and do everything within His power to bring that Kingdom to the world. It’s not difficult to see how, by His life, works, and teaching, He made the most of His brief time on earth to establish a beachhead, within a limited physical space, from which the Kingdom of God has expanded throughout the ages and the earth.
Though Jesus’ ministry was confined to a very small geographic, cultural, and personal sphere, still, His faithfulness and diligence, together with the model He gave His disciples, induced the others to imitate Him and continue the Kingdom work He began.
Paul is an excellent example. He consciously modeled his life and ministry after the Lord Jesus, seeking the Kingdom as the defining priority in everything he did, beginning in his soul and extending through him to the full range of the sphere God appointed for him. Paul was called to the Kingdom and glory of God and sent to a specific sector of the Lord’s field, that is, the Gentiles. Through his exertions he had many reasons to boast in the Lord about the Kingdom presence He established through Paul’s labors.
As the Father sent Jesus to the world, so He sends us, to embody and proclaim the Kingdom of God—to establish the Kingdom presence in our own sphere. And as Paul was so fruitful and effective in imitating Jesus, so he commands us to identify and own and work the places God has appointed for us, that the Kingdom might come on earth as it is in heaven.
But how can we identify the sphere or the places God has appointed to us?
As you are going
Ask yourself: Where do I go on a regular basis? The answers should be obvious: To my home, my work, my church, in my neighborhood, to shop, among my friends, and so forth. We might describe these various places as the “as-you-are-goings” of your life. Yours, not someone else’s. The life God has appointed for you. The sphere within which you are called to the Kingdom and glory of God.
Jesus said that in the “as-you-are-goings” of our lives we are to make disciples (Matt. 28.18-20). This entails using certain kinds of disciplines. “A discipline,” Dallas Willard explains in The Divine Conspiracy, “is an activity in our power that we do to enable us to do what we cannot do by direct effort.” By filling our time with specific disciplines, we can realize more of the presence of God’s Kingdom in our soul and in our places, a presence we cannot achieve or realize on our own. Thus, we must use our time and engage our places with disciplines such as spiritual disciplines—to prepare us soul and body; relational disciplines—that we may love our neighbors; and perhaps certain vocational disciplines—to help us in doing all our work unto the Lord (Col. 3.23, 24).
Our continually traversing the ground of this sphere, these places, allows us to use the time God gives us for making our unique contribution to the Kingdom presence on earth as it is in heaven. By seeking the Kingdom in all our time and in every place to which God sends us, using the disciplines we learn from God’s Word, we will be much more likely to bring the light of Christ to bear against the darkness of unbelief and to see the Kingdom presence steadily increasing in the as-you-are-goings of our life (1 Jn. 2.8).
We might think of the as-you-are-goings of our lives as a mission field, a Personal Mission Field, because it has been personally prepared for us as our field of endeavor in seeking the Kingdom and glory of God. Every day Jesus sends us out into our Personal Mission Field with the gift of time so that we may answer God’s call to His Kingdom and glory by embodying and proclaiming the reality of the Kingdom, percolating within and overflowing from our soul.
Step by step
But the Kingdom does not come into our space or sphere in some full-blown manner. Like everything else in the life of faith, it comes little by little (cf. Is. 28.10; Ex. 23.30; Deut. 7.20). The light of the Kingdom glows; it does not blare, blinding and hurting people and turning them away. It glows with an attraction that makes them want to gather around it, to consider and enjoy it, and perhaps to seek more of it.
Many believers today are concerned that the tide of secularism is about to wash over and wash away the last remnants of true faith. And indeed, many wrong-believing people are making a sincere effort to keep Christianity out of public places. In the latter years of the twentieth century, many people feared the same about the plague of Soviet Marxism that had infected Russia and Eastern Europe. They feared that nothing could stop its relentless and ineluctable advance. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was not one of those people. Two quotes from his writings teach us how to face the darkness of secularism and what to do in seeking the Kingdom of God in our sphere. In his Nobel Lecture on Literature, Solzhenitsyn wrote, “The simple act of an ordinary brave man is not to participate in lies, not to support false actions! His rule: let that come into the world, let it even reign supreme—only not through me.”
No room in our soul and no time and or place for lies, deceit, or mere self-centeredness.
And in his chapter, “As Breathing and Consciousness Return” (From under the Rubble), Solzhenitsyn counseled anyone who wished to live in freedom to “take a single moral step within his own power” and to do so daily, in whatever space and time is available to him.
Or, as Solomon put it, “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them” (Prov. 28.4).
The Kingdom of God is coming. The light has dawned, and the disappearing darkness cannot prevent its continuing to glow and grow. The Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit is advancing like a growing stone to overcome all opposition and fill the world with Jesus (Dan. 2.44, 45; Eph. 4.7-10). And it is advancing in the time and throughout the places of individual believers like you and me.
Seek the fullness of the Kingdom for the entirety of your soul. Devote your time and sphere to realizing more of the Kingdom’s presence, promise, and power. Then take up the disciplines you will need to employ all your words and deeds for Kingdom presence throughout all the as-you-are-goings of your life.
For reflection or discussion
1. How can you keep yourself from falling victim to lies, half-truth, deception, and wrong belief?
2. What will it require for you to take a “single moral step” in the places of your life today?
3. If we don’t faithfully work our Personal Mission Field for the coming of God’s Kingdom, what can we expect in the as-you-are-goings of our lives?
Next steps—Preparation: Be sure you have mapped out your Personal Mission Field (watch this video and download the worksheet). Pray for the people in your Personal Mission Field and work little by little for Kingdom progress in it every day.
T. M. Moore
You can download all the installments in this series, Kingdom Presence, by clicking here.
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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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.