Scripture speaks often of the Kingdom of God as His rule and reign in the affairs of men. The Old and New Testaments relate the acceptance and difficulties experienced during God’s first and second calls into Kingdom life.
The first call involved a physical deliverance for a gathered ‘people of faith’ into a new nation (a), followed by an invitation to personally interact with the presence of God (b). The second call began with the invitation to interact with God apart from a physical place to gather.
Both calls into Kingdom life involved many variables, processes and responses. This inconsistency may challenge our beliefs about God’s sovereign rule and authority in Kingdom life. So we ask, “Why are there so many variations?”
Variations in the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God is not like natural kingdoms whose rule is usually introduced by force (c). Neither does God oversee life in His Kingdom like a dictator inflicting restrictive ways upon people. It is not oppressive and forceful, but invitational, graceful, and approachable. The reign of our loving God is full of variables, comings and goings, ups and downs, and understandings.
The Bible verses that say “God will rule with a rod of iron” (d) give an incorrect impression and can be misunderstood. According to the Greek of Scripture, this phrase really says “God will Shepherd with a stabilizing staff.” The fatherly heart of God allows for differences and degrees of response. Yet, like sheep under the watch of their protective shepherd, God can draw us back into His care with the steady hook of the Shepherd’s staff.
Rather than a disciplinary rod, God desires to guide us with a steady Shepherd’s staff.
Proclaiming Daily Guidance
The ministry of Jesus began God’s renewed call into Kingdom life, declaring it is readily available and instructed followers to declare the same (e). Read more in our blog God Recalls People of Faith into Kingdom Life. In The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches all His followers to declare; “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” (f).
Since God already knows what we need; praying this way proclaims our willingness to follow His guidance. A few verses later Jesus adds, “Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.” (g) Because each of our situations varies, we are to seek His righteous oversight daily.
More than a spiritual ‘or’ natural experience, participating in Kingdom living improves our whole life; spirit, soul, and body (h). While many are awakened to God’s influence as a spiritual rebirth (i), entry into Kingdom living can also be a mental or emotional decision. This is true personally and as nations.
Because each of our situations varies, we are to daily seek God’s righteous oversight.
Actively Pursuing Kingdom Life
In order to help us understand better, Jesus detailed a few of the many variations in Kingdom living as word pictures in the 13th chapter of Matthew:
- Life in God’s Kingdom is full of revealing mystery (11-12) and involves a hearing acceptance to be fruitful (19-23).
- Just as seed is sown and the yield differs (24-31), God’s influence expands as leaven, to affect all that interact with Him (33-35).
- Kingdom life is like a costly treasure (44-46) that can appeal to everyone (47-52), yet it includes divisions and stumbling blocks (36-43).
Within these visual descriptions, Jesus also said tares are to grow among the wheat (j). Why does he include weeds in the description of Kingdom life? Typically viewed in a negative way, our natural perspective tells us tares will always be tares. God however can over-ride any natural limitation or understanding! With His help, everyone can change from what we have been into what we can be.
Under God’s Light and Love darkness is overcome, contrasting tares can be transformed into wheat, and stubborn goats can become sheep. Our active pursuit of Kingdom life brings individual and collective righteousness, peace and joy into our experience (k).
Our active pursuit of Kingdom life brings individual and collective righteousness, peace and joy.
‘Within’ Mind and Heart
Full of intended variations, life in God’s Kingdom is not limited to a natural location, language, race, ethnicity, society, or time factor. God beckons who-so-ever-will to partake. His welcoming invitation is to all people from every tribe, nation, and language (l).
God’s Kingdom is considered to be ‘within’ because it begins within our thoughts and desires. This Kingdom reality, with all our differences, is being written upon our reasoning minds and the intentions of our hearts (m).
It is the resistance that occurs in our mind and heart that keeps us from accepting Kingdom life. Our ‘heart’ expresses what our mind thinks, our will understands, and our emotions feel. Often so powerful, this struggle can truly be a battle.
God’s Kingdom reign is an influence we chose to accept, partake of, and follow. Participation renews and brings maturing adjustments to our perceptions of life. The fatherly nature of God allows for variations that appear to be contrasts; such as varying opinions, immature attitudes, and different activities. All are part of life in God’s Kingdom.
Full of intended variations, God’s Kingdom life is within individual minds and hearts.
Visible Variations within One Body
As our heavenly Father, God has a vested interest in each of our lives. His greater Kingdom purpose however is seen in our function as the many membered “body of believers” (n) who ‘work out’ into everyday life what begins within (o). Working and living under His influence, with all our variations, is the ‘visible’ body of Christ in the earth.
We who are many are one body…you are Christ’s body (p).
God has allotted to each a measure of faith…many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function (q).
To each one of us grace was given…for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies… causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (r).
Similar to our physical body with its many members that function by doing different things, God intends the body of Christ to include members that look and function differently. Greater works are accomplished when our individual ability, gifting, and anointing work together.
The “greater works” Jesus spoke of are illustrated in a grander way as nations (s). Individually and as nations, we want to allow God to be our primary guide in life. With all our variations in the Kingdom of God; How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity (not alone) (t).
With all our variations, the ‘visible’ body of Christ is believers working and living under God’s influence.
a) Exodus 12:37-38; b) Deuteronomy 5:24-26; Exodus 20:19; c) John 18:36-37; Luke 17:20-21; d) Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15; e) Matthew 4:17, 23; 10:7; 24:14; Acts 28:31; f) Matthew 6:8-10; g) Matthew 6:33; h) 1 Thessalonians 5:23; i) John 3:3; j) Matthew 13:24-30; k) Romans 14:17; l) Revelation 5:9; m) Hebrews 10:16; n) Ephesians 2:21-22; 4:15-16; o) Philippians 2:12-13; p) 1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:27; q) Romans 12:3-5; r) Ephesians 4: 7, 12-16; s) John 14:12; t) Psalm 133:1