Christian Philosophy Lite: Living in the present day kingdom of god
By Raymond Smith
John the Baptist heralded it, Jesus made it the centerpiece of his teaching, and the apostles promoted it in their gospel. The kingdom of God (or the kingdom of heaven, used interchangeably) figured large in early Christian days - it was an idea revitalized from Old Testament thinking, and Jesus taught that it was both a present and future kingdom.
The idea of a rewarding hereafter is common to many religions. Each of us in our bones feel that there must be an afterlife. Blaise Pascal asked the question, "Which is harder, to be born, or to rise again?"
In the light of eternity, it is reasonable that we direct much of our living toward this kingdom. The world is passing away, but his kingdom is established forever.
Jesus in a parable said that the kingdom of God was like a man who found a treasure hid in a field, and so went and sold all that he had in order to buy that field and claim its contents.
But Jesus also taught there was a kingdom of God here on this Earth, and he who is wise would enter into it and reap its benefits. It is a kingdom which exists in the hearts and minds of men. It is present whenever and wherever men and women submit their lives to God's authority. The late C.S. Lewis wrote, "The kingdom of heaven is something that will grow in us if we give it half a chance. We need to think in its terms."
We are, after all, spiritual creatures, and we must not neglect the inner spiritual life.
How do we live in this present day kingdom? By acknowledging Jesus as Savior and King; by getting to know him and learning about the plans he has for us; by avoiding many of the worldly attractions that would keep us from our goals.
A sonnet by William Wordsworth puts it succinctly, "The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending we lay waste our powers ...."
Living in this kingdom has many benefits: joy, peace and confidence; an enhanced appreciation of the beauty and intricacy of nature and of God's provision for us.
The love and concern of fellow Christian travelers. God's protection and his concern and mercy in our time of trial.
What is our part? It is to serve the King in whatever way he calls us using our individual talents.
We are to visit the widows and orphans in their affliction, visit the sick and those in prison.
We can spread the word through speaking and writing and teaching. We can serve through artistry and music, through lending libraries, home Bible fellowships and passing out tracts.
We can minister to the elderly, and through the Hospice organization to dying patients; provide tutoring or counseling - the list is endless.
Kingdom living is more than church attendance. Have you caught the vision? It is worth all your possessions to gain this present and eternal kingdom.
Raymond F. Smith is president of Strong Families of Victoria