Journey into God’s Kingdom
Take a look around your home. What do you see? Electricity, heating and air conditioning, lights, running water, flat screens, laptops, cable, and internet?
Now take a moment to visualize the very same land your home sits on a few millennia ago. No homes, no streets, no power lines, no running water or sewer. Just trees or grasslands or desert or tundra.
Picture yourself being among the first people to step foot on your land. You are faced with finding springs of water to drink from and game and plants to eat, pitching a teepee or tent, and making clothes to wear appropriate for the climate.
Imagine what a struggle it was, requiring every ounce of effort and capability and smarts.
This is not unlike our current state. We are called even now to migrate to a whole new place. And like it did with those before us, the task will require every ounce of our effort and capability.
God Calls Us Into His Kingdom
God calls us to depart from our old life and enter His Kingdom. “Seek first the kingdom of God,” Jesus says (Matt. 6:33 ESV). He also instructs us to pray, “Your [God’s] kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (v. 10).
To enter God’s Kingdom, though, we first need a passport. Where do we get it? From Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He stands ready to issue a passport to anyone who asks. We must simply confess our sins, admit we need help, ask God for forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross, and believe and receive this forgiveness. This is the passport. It is free to us because He paid dearly for it with His blood.
But this is just the beginning. What good will it do us if we just sit at home and never use the passport?
Where Do We Find His Kingdom?
There is no point in searching for God’s Kingdom in this world, because it is not here. It is not a physical place or a set of circumstances.
On the contrary, we enter into it, or maybe we should say it enters into us, through our inner being – our hearts and souls. It exists in the deepest part of us.
Jesus announced, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21 KJV). God’s Kingdom brings about a totally different life in all the ways that really matter. Over time it changes how we experience life, how we perceive things, and how we think and feel.
How Do We Enter And Live In His Kingdom?
You have probably heard of the legend of the great ancient city of Atlantis and how it sank slowly into the sea. Some variations of the story describe how the people of Atlantis followed their city as it sank over many generations. By swimming and diving constantly, the people were somehow gradually endowed with the ability to live under the sea. To do so, they had to make every effort, and they had to be eager to learn.
Whatever you think of the legend, the truth is that God will likewise endow us with a supernatural ability to live and even flourish in His Kingdom. He does this by helping our efforts. He tells us that He will “equip you with everything good that you may do his will” (Heb. 13:21 ESV), and He promises “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3 ESV).
Learning How To Operate In God’s Kingdom
God is ready and waiting for us. He wants to help us. He wants to bring us into His glorious Kingdom—a Kingdom better than we can ask or imagine.
But we must do our part. Recall the story of the Exodus. God did His part to deliver the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt and bring them into the Promised Land, but Moses and Aaron and all of the Israelites had to first do their part.
We have to learn and understand the process God has designed. Just as Moses did when God taught him what would happen and what he would be required to do when He spoke out of the bush that was ablaze with fire and yet not consumed (Exod. 3).
Here is what we need to know. It works like this: out with the old, in with the new. Displacement. It sounds simple, but it is where we so easily get tripped up.
Take a look at the diagram below. Picture one of your science labs from high school. At the start of class your teacher shows you a closed container, a tank. It is made of glass, so you can see inside of it. It is filled with a toxic fluid. This toxic fluid represents our “old self.” It represents us, our inner being, before we become a part of God’s Kingdom. It is us living and existing separate from God. Struggling and striving to make ourselves feel important and successful and popular and secure and satisfied. And feeling frustrated when we fail, as we inevitably do.
God instructs us, “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” (Eph. 4:22 ESV). He also tells us to lay aside the old self with its evil practices and put on the new self (Col. 3:9).
The goal is to drain out the old self. We want to replace it with God’s Kingdom, represented by the life-giving, beautifully pure air above the tank. In His Kingdom we connect and become united with Christ, which fills us with His perfect love, peace, joy, Spirit, goodness, hope, beauty, and so much more.
How It Doesn’t Work
Let’s get back to our science experiment.
Your teacher unscrews the tube at the top of the tank. He then attaches a pump to the tube and attempts to force air into the tank. Very little air makes it into the tank because liquids are not easily compressed. It only ends up building pressure in the tank, causing it to nearly shatter.
This illustrates what it is like when we attempt to bring God into our heart and soul while the old self is still alive and well.
We can spend time praying, reading Scripture, and worshipping, hoping that God will fill us, but as long as we remain attached to the world that feeds the old self, it will not happen. It cannot, because we are still harboring and nurturing elements of our self—things such as our craving for wealth and success, our need to be right, our demand for attention and recognition, our obsession with what others think about us, our refusal to forgive, and our impulse to manipulate circumstances to our advantage. This is true even if we change on the outside.
Your teacher reseals the tube at the top. Next, he opens the seal in the drainpipe at the bottom of the tank. You wait for the swishing sound of fluid draining out, but nothing happens. Why? Because air is not free to enter the tank from the top and displace the fluid.
This depicts when we work to remove the old self without opening ourselves to allow God to fill us in our inner being. This was the condition of the Pharisees, whom we read about in the Gospels. They changed superficially on the outside; they rid themselves of obvious and visible sin and busied themselves with good activities like praying and reading Scripture. The problem, though, was with their hearts. They were not welcoming God into the deeper part of themselves.
How It Does Work
Finally, your teacher opens up both the drainpipe at the bottom and the cap at the top at the same time. You hear the satisfying sound of the toxic fluid draining rapidly out at the very moment the class bell rings, and you rush toward the cafeteria for lunch so you can get a place near the beginning of the line.
Just as in the physical world, we must expel the old self and open ourselves to God’s Kingdom simultaneously. We do this by journeying deep into God’s Kingdom.
I hope you will join me as we explore how we can do this as we continue our series.Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks