Building A Kingdom
What do you do? It’s a question that gets asked frequently when we meet someone new. The answers will vary, but usually, it will be something along the lines of what work you do or that you are retired or a housewife etc. In one sense there is no wrong answer to the question, but sometimes our perspective needs broadening.
Having recently returned from a trip to Israel, one of the things that I found remarkable is how much development has taken place since I was last there three years ago. It led me to thinking that what many Israelis seem to understand is that they are building a nation. I went on a very nice railway which I didn’t even know existed, roads and hi-ways are in the process of construction and the nation is taking shape.
What am I doing? What are you doing? Are you a teacher, mum or executive, or do we rather see ourselves as building a nation or even more exciting, a Kingdom?
A Common Hindrance
Many people are in the process of building, but it is a personal kingdom. When I say a personal kingdom, I’m not just talking about a rich businessman who seeks to get wealthier but rather anyone who has their own interests above those of King Jesus. I have seen this in different places, but perhaps none more clearly than in the church in Africa.
It may be that the hardship of a poor life makes the ground fertile for this deception, but I have seen numerous pastors who lord it over their flock. They receive an income from their people and they like to keep them subdued on a supposedly lower level. There is a spirit of control that hinders pastors from releasing their people to their calling and full potential.
It seems to me that there is also a fear that the people who are under these pastors may flourish and grow and the pastors themselves wouldn’t be seen in as good a light.
I don’t believe that this fear is well founded providing the pastor is genuinely seeking first the Kingdom. Having meditated on this at length, I have come to the conclusion that the end time harvest is currently hobbled by people in authority not releasing those under them to their God-given place.
No Competition in the Kingdom
Consider it this way – Pastor Jake has a congregation of one hundred people. Their tithes pay his salary and the upkeep of the church, He preaches each week, does some visits, evangelises if he has time. Jake doesn’t encourage people to seek and grow in their callings because that may cause competition for leadership and decision-making. The congregation seems static, but in truth it is stagnant.
In a contrasting scenario, Pastor James has a congregation of one hundred people. His heart is to see people released into their calling. He looks after his flock, encourages them to read the Word for themselves and to cultivate their listening to the Holy Spirit. Pastor James isn’t called to be an evangelist, but trains those who are and they see a growth in numbers. He is not threatened by others with a gift for teaching or pastoring but builds them up. In a year or two the church has grown sufficiently to plant another fellowship.
We each have our own calling. Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Those words were not written concerning someone else, but concerning me and concerning you – each of us as individuals.
In Ephesians 2:10, Paul writes, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God prepared good works for each one of us to do. You cannot do mine and I cannot do yours. It eradicates competition because although our callings may be similar, they are not the same.
Changing Our Perspective
When we stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ, do you think we will be commended more for keeping people under us or for releasing them? The way I like to think about it myself is this: if I work in the service of the Lord all my life, let’s say I receive a reward with a rating of 10. What about if I dedicate myself not only to the service of the Lord, but to the service of others – helping them to recognise and grow into their callings? Does it not make sense that God would additionally reward me for the work that those people go on to do? If you think about it like that, then the more we give, the more reward we get. If we seek to withhold the releasing and equipping of others to be and do what God has ordained, then we thwart the purposes of God.
Hear what Derek Prince has to say along these lines concerning apostles:
What about apostles? Let’s look at two Scriptures about apostles which is just illustrating this principle. Ephesians 2:20: And you are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets . . .
Where are the apostles and prophets? In the foundation. Where’s the foundation, the top or the bottom? The bottom.
And what about Revelation 21:14, it says:
The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them were the names of the twelve apostles of the land.
See, I know a brother who grew up in what’s called the Apostolic Church of Britain where the great emphasis has been on apostles and prophets. It’s a Pentecostal movement, it has its good points. It’s been extremely legalistic. And there’s been extreme emphasis on the apostle and the prophet in each local assembly. This brother, who is now a well-known minister of the word, as a young man revolted against this. The legalism and the imposition of authority, and the self-aggrandizement of the ministry. He turned his back on it all but he said to me and to some of us brothers two or three years ago, “My attitude changed when I learned this: That apostles are not someone at the top holding you down. They’re people at the bottom holding you up.”
The greater you are, the lower down you go. That’s the principle. It’s not getting to the top, it’s getting to the bottom.
The last Scripture, Romans 15:1.
We then that are strong ought to [rule the weak, is that right?] bear the infirmities of the weak . . .
More and more I see this is the test of strength. It’s how much can you bear of the weak? This is, I think, a beautiful example. With this I promise to close. The principle of discipleship. God showed it to me in a mental vision in the branches of the vine. He said, “The longer you’ve been grafted into the vine, the more important it is not that you bear grapes but that you bear branches.” Your strength is not in the number of grapes that you bear, it’s in the number of branches you can bear. And anybody that’s been a Christian 10 or 15 years should have branches growing out of him. And the fruit that he bears then is not the fruit that’s at the end of his branch but it’s the fruit at the end of the branches that he’s bearing as a branch.
In other words, strength is bearing. The more you can hold up, the stronger you are. It’s not keeping people down, it’s holding people up.
Seeking First the Kingdom
In conversation with a man who has recently earned his PhD in Theology, he said he was going to work in a secular job to earn money so that he could bring his family over from Africa. Then he would begin to build his ministry. I don’t think that any job needs to a considered “secular” if we are doing God’s will, but the impression I was given was that he was putting God aside for a while and then when he had things in order he would resume what he wanted to do for God.
It left me thinking that this supposedly learned man had missed a key Scripture: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” If he was primarily focussed on seeking God’s Kingdom, then he could be confident that God would provide every need including reconciling his family to be with him.
That is just an example, but in truth this is something that we all face from time to time – what are we doing with our lives? Are we doing our own thing or are we building a Kingdom?
The Coming Kingdom
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, whether we recognise it or not, we are praying for the Kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven. The familiarity of the words sometimes makes them pass our lips unnoticed and we fail to absorb their tremendous significance. But how does the Kingdom come?
The first way that the Kingdom comes is inwardly. Jesus told the Pharisees of His day that the Kingdom does not come by watching and waiting for it externally. He said that the Kingdom of God is within you or in your midst (see Luke 17:21).
There is no kingdom without a king. When any king comes in, he brings his kingdom with him. Every true believer who makes Jesus King of his life, therefore, can have an individual experience of the Kingdom. That means displacing “self” from the throne of one’s heart and placing Jesus on that throne. Anyone who does that finds that the Kingdom of God sets in with righteousness, peace and joy.
But I believe there is also a corporate expression of the Kingdom. It is in the true community of believers, which is called the Church. This is the fellowship of those who have made Jesus King in their own hearts and lives and relate to one another on that basis.
It is the responsibility of the Church in any place to model the Kingdom of God, that by our attitudes and our relationships and the way we live we challenge the world with a glimpse of the Kingdom. People should be able to look at the Church and say, “So that’s what the Kingdom of God is like.” They should see in her righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. I tell you that where the Church demonstrates these things, the hearts of men and women are nearly always open to the truth of the Gospel. If the world does not see the Kingdom in the Church, it will probably not believe our message.
If there is one place that the Kingdom should be demonstrated first and foremost, it is in the believer’s family. And if there is one place that Satan is attacking today, it is the family. The family was designed by God to represent the Kingdom, and Satan wants to blur, obscure and eliminate the message of the Kingdom. He is afraid of the Kingdom because wherever the Kingdom is established, his power has come to an end.
The King Comes
The glorious reality, is that this is not just a theoretical kingdom or something that is beyond our reach. In the words of a well-known song, “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King”
The Kingdom can come invisibly—both in the individual hearts of believers and in the corporate fellowship of the true Church. But that is not the ultimate. The ultimate is the visible establishment of God’s Kingdom. And just as the invisible Kingdom requires a King, so does the visible Kingdom. Only when the King Himself has returned visibly and in Person can the true Kingdom of God be established on earth. Personally, I have to say I feel it presumptuous for the Church to suggest that we can do the job and finish it off without Jesus. The Bible says that we should be eagerly longing for His appearing.
A friend of mine who is a preacher has a rather droll way of expressing himself. He said that when Jesus returns, the Church should do something more than say, “Nice to have You back!” Believe me, friend, things are going to happen on earth between now and then that will make us desperately anxious to see Him back. God is going to arrange that.
That is the primary purpose of God—the establishment of His Kingdom on earth visibly with a visible King ruling over it. Everything that God does is directed toward that. Until we make that our priority, we are not really aligned with the will and purpose of God. That is why Jesus told us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come. We are required to align ourselves with His purpose.
Prayer is not a way for us to get God to do what we want. A lot of Christians think it is. It may work out that way, but that is not its purpose. Prayer is a way for us to become instruments for God to do what He wants. When we become aligned with God’s purpose, we are going to pray prayers that are irresistible. There will be no power, human or satanic, that will be able to resist the outworking of our prayer.
An Apt Response
When confronted with truth, we always need to make an appropriate response. If we haven’t yet invited Jesus into our hearts as King, then that is the first step. We could pray something like this:
Lord Jesus, I recognise my need for a Saviour – someone to save me from myself, sin and the Devil. Thank-you for dying on the cross in my place and making a way for me to be reconciled to God. I turn from my sin and ask that you would forgive me all my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. In Your name I pray. Amen
Once we have the assurance that Jesus is King in our lives, we can pray further:
Heavenly Father, thank you for Your Son Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16). I pray that the eyes of my heart would be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which You have called me, the riches of Your glorious inheritance in Your holy people, and Your incomparably great power for us who believe. (Eph 1:18)
Help me to be Kingdom-focused in what I think, believe, say and do. Lord I pray that you would use me in the establishment of Your Kingdom and that by Your grace I would be an instrument for Your glory. I pray as Jesus taught us to pray, that Your Kingdom would come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In Jesus’ name. Amen
- Peter Lindop