When the world around us shows signs of wobbling and shaking – economy, odd weather, wars and government mayhem – Christians can comfort themselves with the truth that God is on the trone. He’s reigning, no matter what is going on. We don’t have to live totally in the natural, we are spriritual creatures after all. It’s confusing, we don’t like all of it but that bit at least is reassuring – the Lordship of a Mighty God shields us from a lot of craziness, and restores us when the world has wreaked some havoc.
To a seasoned Christian – this doesn’t feel like abdication of responsibility or rights – it’s just a fact that we don’t have the long view and the big picture that our God has, and that’s a familiar truth. Where were we, after all, when he flung the stars into their orbits?
Shamelessly borrowing terminology from economics – I think of this as Macro Kingdom. The Kingdom of God on a world scale, whole body of Christ scale – maybe even a my home church scale. This is the broad view of what our God is up to, how He is moving.
This is the Kingdom people are talking about when they teach on Kingdom living – how to manage money and be a steward, how to operate by God’s principles so that your life is joyful and peaceful.
I think there is also a Micro Kingdom level – just as we talk about how we wish the government would treat its budget and funds the way we treat our personal budgets and funds – we can think of a big Kingdom and a personal Kingdom.
This is where a lot of my challenges lie!
For a King to defend a city, He has to have total control over it. Those walls have to be populated with His loyal soldiers. There can’t be a band of rebels lurking to open a side door, throw over a rope ladder to marauders.
We are just the same. The degree to which we allow our God to reign over our personal selves – body, soul, spirit – I think equates with the degree to which He will provide, bless and protect. Our God is a supreme respector of free will.
The problem with rope ladders and side doors is that they are small and appear insignificant, but once one marauder is in, he is going to let in some buddies. or worse, he’s going to fling open the city gate and let in anybody who is lurking. I suspect for many mature and growing Christians – this isn’t about the big stuff anymore. This could be about little issues of flesh or obedience, so small that we don’t even realize they are open doors and ways into our carefully guarded hearts.
Side doors is what this Lent is about for me – I’m realizing my flesh has more control over me than I’d like in the form of eating stuff that isn’t temple-friendly. This temple is better padded than it needs to be. But if one excess is allowed to run wild – I’m noticing other ones sneak in after it. The third glass of wine, for example. Then grumping, or my mouth disconnects from my brain and has its way. Flesh abounds. Not cute.
I don’t think our God expects us to defend our own cities, by ourselves, for one minute. But I do think He expects us to be vigilant, armed, alert.
Here is where a healthy dose of discernment will help us: we know all things are permissable, but not all things are beneficial.
Discernment will do several things for us. One, we will notice threats while they are still outside our walls. That allows us to mount an offense, proactively, instead of a reactive, defensive response that is always going to be weaker than going on the attack.
Two, discernment will identify for us – sometimes to my great discomfort and whining – places where we aren’t allowing Him to reign. I remember an argument about something as trivial as a skirt. No young lady, that skirt is NOT okay for you at this time. What witness does that give? I lived in Europe for many years – I didn’t even think about it because it was much more “sensible” than skirts I had seen on those streets. But okay, He wins. Drat, I liked that skirt. I changed my outfit. Who knows what I avoided by doing this, but I did it and I’m sure He was right. As always.
Third, discernment will help us know the difference between permissable and beneficial. This is important, because it will change a lot as we mature. Stuff we got away with as new Christians won’t be okay anymore, and stuff we weren’t mature enough to handle is going to be fine now. There have been times with God has firmly and gently told me, no wine right now, you’re fragile. Other times the message has been, please relax, it is a $5 tee shirt and I said you could have it.
The very good news for us is that Kingdom principles are the same for the Macro and Micro levels – our God is a consistent, truthful, straightforward Lord who doesn’t want us confused or struggling to do what is best for ourselves. The even better news is that He doesn’t expect us to figure this stuff out all at once, or even by ourselves. We have help, we have written guidelines and we have each other.
What I like best about this is the promise – our Lord built his church on the rock, and the gates of Hell aren’t going to prevail against it. That means our enemy isn’t going to prevail in the macro kingdom – against the entire body of Christ – but it also means that our enemy will be vanquished in a much more private, individual battle. Your kingdom is protected, and safe, and you can dwell there in peace.