In Kingdom 31, I said I tried to do an overview of what I had covered up to that point but I found it too difficult to do it within a 10 – 15 minutes audio clip, so I decided against it. But I’ve had 2nd thoughts about that. A few days ago, just as I was waking up in the morning, I think the Lord reminded me of a time when I was a young lawyer arguing a case in court for a client.
In that hearing, the judge was really against me. No matter what I said and how hard I tried, arguing this way and that way, I could not convince the judge. His mind was closed. Finally he interrupted me and told me he didn’t want to hear me anymore. It was obvious he had already decided the case against my client. It was very disheartening because I was very sure the law and the facts were on our side but just as I was about to sit down, there was something in me that refused to give up and I asked the judge if he would give me another minute – just 1 more minute to summarise all my points of argument. He looked really impatient and totally switched off but surprisingly he said, “I have already made up my mind but OK, I am giving you just 1 more minute.”
So I quickly summarised all my arguments into 3 succinct points. But after I stated the 3rd point, the judge suddenly sat up and he had this puzzled look on his face. He said, “Hang on. What did you just say? Repeat your 3rd point to me.” So I repeated my 3rd point slowly and deliberately to make sure he did not miss anything. He wrote down word for word what I said. Then he was in deep thought for a while. Finally he looked up and he asked the lawyer for the other side for his reply to the point I just made. The guy fumbled for an answer but he really had no answer because the law and the facts were so clearly in my client’s favor. Then the judge wrote something in his file and looked up at us and he gave judgment in favour of my client. What a dramatic reversal at literally the last minute.
I did not say anything new in the summary actually, but for some reason, somehow the judge did not catch what I had said earlier. But when I reduced everything into 3 succinct points, he suddenly woke up to realize what I had been trying so hard to tell him for half an hour. I guess it might be same in this Kingdom series. We can miss some key points amongst the mass of material I’ve covered, right? Another thing that might have been difficult to follow is the route, I took from Kingdom 1 to Kingdom 43. How did I get from Kingdom 1 where I started to talk about the good news as the good news of the Kingdom, to Kingdom 43 about being yoked to Jesus?
I don’t know who this is going to help, but I hope it will be helpful. So this is what I’m going to do. For the rest of this segment, I will do a very brief 5-6 minutes, no more than 7 minutes run through of how I got from Kingdom 1 to Kingdom 43. This is not an overview of key points but just a look back at how A led to B, and B led to C and C led to D and so on. And then after that, in Kingdom 45 and 46, I will do an overview of what I’ve covered from Kingdom 1 – 43. Then in Kingdom 47, I will start on the 3rd part of these series to talk about working with God for His Kingdom to advance.
OK, so how did I get from the good news as the good news of the Kingdom, to talking about being yoked to Jesus? I started with this – we must wake up to what the Bible tells us so clearly – that the good news is the Kingdom. Not salvation to go to heaven. God created man and gave him dominion to rule the earth but man lost that dominion to the devil. But the good news is that Jesus came to drive the devil out to take back authority and dominion over the earth and we can be a part of His Kingdom on earth. From the time Jesus first came, God is in the process of establishing His Kingdom on earth. He is restoring everything to what it was meant to be in the beginning so that we would be under His rule. Jesus came not to take us to heaven but to save and rescue us from the kingdom of darkness to be in His kingdom. So salvation is not escape but restoration.
How will Satan be driven out and how is God’s Kingdom going to come? Answer : We have to surrender our kingdoms to Jesus and let Him be King, and Jesus has called us to work with Him to disciple nations with the truth, culture and values of God’s kingdom. So all of art, science, business, education, government, family .. everything .. everything is to be brought under the Lordship of Christ. But how is that going to happen if Christians and churches are trapped in a “salvation from this world” worldview and a church-centric worldview? If we think God no longer has any concern for this world, then we will see everything in a dualism – where things like church, Bible study, and prayer are considered spiritual, but everything else is considered not spiritual, and spirituality is understood only as an invisible private thing inside a person. This is evident from the terrible statistics of poverty in the world, and the pathetic response of Christians and churches. I shared several heart-breaking stories as examples.
How did we get it so wrong? How did we miss the Kingdom when Jesus called the good news the good news of the Kingdom, but we thought it was only about salvation to go to heaven? How did we become so focused on making sure we are saved and getting to heaven with no concern for poverty and injustice and everything else in the world? I think it all began when man became his own god. That not only separated us from God, it made us self-centered. We are so self-centered that we filter everything, including the gospel and salvation and spirituality through our self-centered worldview spectacles. When we do that even spirituality becomes an introverted self-centered focus.
Jesus came to restore us to God’s original purpose why He created us – to be like Him, and to be one with Him, so that we can love as He loves. To love is to be centred on others, not on ourselves. For that to happen we must of course return to God and yield and surrender ourselves .. our self-centred selves to Him. That is really what Jn.3:16 is about. Restoration, not escape. But most Christians have missed that completely. Instead of seeing the true meaning of Jn.3:16, we are so focused on heaven and making sure we don’t miss the boat. Just like the priest and Levite who passed by on the other side, we completely turn a blind eye to needs around us. And we are so focused on church, church, church and church, we cannot see the Kingdom, and we cannot see God’s plan to restore His Kingdom on earth. Instead of church growth which is also self-focus, we need to work with God for His Kingdom to advance.
True spirituality is not an invisible private self-focused thing inside a person, or inside the 4 walls of the church, true spirituality is love. But the sin nature in us makes us naturally and hopelessly self-centered. So how can we love? Apart from God, we cannot really love. In fact Jesus said it is impossible and it is only God who can make it possible. How? When we become one with God, which of course can only happen when we yield and surrender our kingdoms to Him. And then we need to learn to receive His love so that we can love as He loves.
But the problem is this. No one will by themselves, of their own accord, go to God to receive His love, or be changed to become like Him. Why? Because we are naturally very self-sufficient. That is why for God to change us to become like Him, He allows trouble and suffering to break us. It is only when we are broken that we will go to Him to be healed and we will learn to receive His love. In fact, God designed us such that only He can fulfill our need for unconditional love, identity, and purpose, or security, self-worth and significance. If we are not getting it from God, then we will strive on our own to get it and we will crave for it from man. But we will end up frustrated. But when God’s love fills us, we will be healed and delivered from the grip of self. So Jesus calls all who are weary and burdened to stop striving on their own but to be yoked to Him instead. As we do that, and keep in step with Him, we can work with Him and rest in Him at the same time.
OK that was just to connect things together in a logical sequence. I hope it has been helpful. In the next 2 segments I will do an overview of the key points from Kingdom 1 – 43.
These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it.