Saturday, May 20, 2006

Living in a Kingdom

Although the title of this post could easily lend itself to an entry about my newest earthly kingdom, the new house, I'm actually talking about a different type of kingdom entirely.

A recent sermon at church reminded me of something that I've known for quite a while, but had never really articulated in my own terms. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on here before, but I am a Christian... a baptized believer in Jesus Christ and a member of his church.

As a member of Christ's church, the bible says that my citizenship is in heaven and that I am a member of the God's Kingdom. When I think about this idea of living as a citizen of God's kingdom, thoughts of ancient imperial Rome come to my mind.

I assume, without having actually experienced life as a Roman citizen, there are so many parallels between the ancient Roman Empire and God's Kingdom. I will delineate them now... (don't you just eat it up when someone uses big formal words like "delineate" in a blog post?)

Similarity #1 - Legend has it that ancient Rome began on a hill called Palatine and (I'm skipping some major stuff here) eventually expanded to all corners of the world. Christ's kingdom had its earthly roots on a hill in what is now modern day Palestine and has expanded to all corners of the world.

Similarity #2 - Citizens of Rome were under a different set of laws than the rest of the world. Although some were restrictive, most of the laws were both beneficial and protective to the people of Rome. No matter where in the empire they went, Roman citizens were protected by the laws of their government which always superseded any local law. There was both honor and peace of mind that came with being a citizen of Rome. As a member of Christ's kingdom, I am under a different set of laws than the rest of the world. Although some are restrictive, all of Christ's laws are beneficial and protective to me. Christ's laws also supersede any and all laws of human origin. They are of a higher nature and call Christians to do more than any earthly law ever calls for. No matter where I go and no matter what happens to me in this life, I know that eternally my soul is safe as a member of Christ's kingdom and a follower of his law.

Similarity #3 - If I were a citizen of ancient Rome, no matter where I happened to be in the world and no matter what I happened to be doing, I was first and foremost a Roman Citizen and one of my duties was to advance the cause of the empire. And what was the cause of the empire? GROWTH. Ancient Rome and the ancient Romans were all about taking the glory of their empire to remote parts of the globe to people whose way of life would certainly benefit from a little Romanizing. Some would argue with me on this point, but in my opinion, never before and never since, has there been an earthly nation whose cultural and political influence has had as far reaching and long lasting an effect on the rest of the world as the Roman Empire. This was not accidental either. The people of Rome had an insatiable appetite for expanding their nation and often packed up and moved to some remote part of the empire in order to help with that cause. As a citizen of Christ's kingdom, no matter where I am in the world and no matter what I am doing, I am first and foremost a Christian and one of my duties is to advance the cause of Christ. And what is the cause of Christ? Simply stated, it is to SEEK and SAVE those who are LOST. Although I often spend my time doing other less productive things, as a member of Christ's church my primary objective is to try to advance Christ's kingdom by taking his message to people whose soul is eternally lost without it. Simply stated, that message is as follows: "God is by his very nature, perfect and without sin. He therefore can have nothing to do with anything impure. Because of sin, man is separated from God. In order to be restored to God, death must occur as payment for sin. Christ was God's son; he came to earth, lived a perfect life as a man, was crucified on a cross, and was brought back to life three days later by God. Because he was perfect and without sin, Christ's death paid the price for all of the sins of the world and gave me and everyone who's ever lived before me and after me access to God's grace, love, and power. Through Christ, despite all of the sin in my life, I am presented to God as perfect and can therefore live with him eternally in heaven someday." Although I have drastically oversimplified the message of Christ, the point is that, just like an ancient Roman, I am to have an insatiable appetite for spreading the kingdom of Christ.

I could go on with the similarities until carpal tunnel syndrome sets in, but I believe I have hit on the important similarities. If I haven't' articulated well the significance of living in Christ's kingdom, I apologize. This idea, although not new, has only recently started receiving serious critical and reflective thought from me. There are just so many things in life that take on totally different levels of significance when I start to think about the fact that I am a citizen of Christ's kingdom. While Christ offers me forgiveness of sins, love, and eternal safety, I (in return) am to devote my life to advancing his kingdom. The only outcome in my life that really matters is that I bring others to Christ.

With that in mind, many things lose significance. However, living in Christ's kingdom does not mean I stop taking care of my earthly responsibilities. For example, consider my job. As a member of Christ's kingdom whether or not I get promoted at work does not matter. That does not mean that I slack off at my job. What is does mean is that as a member of Christ's kingdom I am bound by an obligation to be excellent in all parts of my life and that is what should drive me. Therefore I am to strive for excellence in all of my endeavors with only one "end game" in mind... that is to make reflect positively on Christ and bring others to him. What better way to show people the benefits of life in Christ's kingdom than by living, and working in such a way that people look at my life and think, "Wow... that guy's got it together. I wonder what makes him different." If I have done my part as a citizen of Christ's kingdom well, they really won't even have to wonder what makes me different... they will already know.

1 comment:

  1. excellent post DH. As a minister, I would add that Philippians 3:19-21 provides and excellent link to your thoughts. Here Paul uses the word "citizenship" which was commonly used by Romans to denote their status (Philippi was a Roman colony). Paul, however, notes "our citizenship is in heaven..."

    If people truly invisioned theselves as citizens of heaven, it would radically change how they live.