It was the end of our workday when Rev and I sat down to decompress and catch up.
I started the conversation pretty wound up over something that had been discussed on a news show I’d recently watched.
Rev patiently listened and “wisely” agreed! He knows that’s a good place to start when I’m venting. But then, after a few minutes, he asked, “Why do you watch that stuff? It just upsets you!”
Rev’s a history buff. He keeps me informed about the past and its influence on the present. I keep him informed about political issues and current events.
I haven’t always been interested in this stuff and I can’t tell you when I first felt the need to know what was going on. Maybe it’s my curious writer side that’s always looking for post ideas.
It wasn’t the first time he’d asked me why but that night it led us to a conversation about the Kingdoms of the Right and Left.
Martin Luther taught that Jesus’ followers are citizens of two kingdoms.
- The Worldly Kingdom (Kingdom of the Left)
- The Spiritual Kingdom (Kingdom of the Right)
I’m going to use the terms worldly and spiritual because right and left have strong secular connotations that distract from the point.
Both The Worldly Kingdom and The Spiritual Kingdom are ruled by Christ Jesus which makes His followers (you and me) citizens of a spiritual kingdom living in a worldly kingdom.
Another way scholars look at it is:
The Worldly Kingdom –
Is ruled by the Law … people living under the authority of laws and government. God gives authority to rulers and governments and He uses them as His agents in the world. Some are good and some are not but God is able to move forward His plans through both.
In this kingdom – authority is found in power, prestige, wealth, and position often won through battles fought with physical and/or thought-changing weapons.
The Spiritual Kingdom –
Is ruled by the Gospel … people who have faith in Jesus, who trust Him, follow Him and live according to His teachings. Each of them an imperfect forgiven individual who is called to love and serve others while working together toward a goal of peace.
In this kingdom – all authority is given to Jesus and those who serve Him use the weapons of truth, right-living, faith, hope, God’s Word, forgiveness, and prayer.
Two very different kingdoms. Yet, you and I live in both.
It shouldn’t surprise us when these two kingdoms collide!
But I want to know…
How to Thrive When Your Kingdoms Collide
So, I’m starting with my favorite chapter of the Bible, John 17 – Jesus prayer for His followers.
“My prayer is not for the world, but for those You have given me because they belong to You.” v. 9
“I’m not asking You to take them out of the world but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do.” v. 15–16
As a faith-filled follower of Jesus, you and I are children of God. We belong to Him.
Jesus knew and continues to know the challenges of living in the world without belonging to it. He faced every possible temptation and yet remained sinless and strong against the power of the evil one.
Jesus is our example of how to thrive when kingdoms collide with each other.
So, the first thing we can do is…
Follow the example of Jesus.
I remember the first time I read the book, In His Steps, by Charles M. Sheldon.
The letters W.W. J. D. are everywhere. In fact, we’ve grown kind of numb to them. Maybe it’s because so many people talk about following Jesus and very few actually do.
When I read In His Steps, I thought about the promise of asking, “What would Jesus do?” in every decision and situation. I looked at the power that simple phrase had to change lives and I knew I needed to take a closer look at my own.
What would Jesus do:
- Would He vote?
- Would He participate in social media rants?
- Would He ridicule and disparage those in positions of leadership?
- Would He reject His family for voting for the other political candidate?
- Would He take care of His neighbor?
- Would He forgive?
- Would He give?
The list is endless. And in all honesty, it’s hard.
I think that’s the problem. It’s hard to follow Jesus.
- To love when we’d rather hate.
- To serve when we’d rather be served.
- To forgive when we have every right not to.
- To help when it’s messy and inconvenient.
- To suffer for the benefit of others.
- To trust and not worry.
- To show mercy when we’re angry.
- To stand alone when everyone around us is ________.
That’s why you and I need the second part of – How to Thrive When…
The second part tells us to:
Be Armed and Prepared.
You and I can’t do what Jesus would do if we don’t know what Jesus would do. So, the most important part of becoming armed and prepared is — know Jesus.
1. Spend time with Him through prayer and Bible study.
“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” John 5:39
2. Ask Him to help you know Him better.
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. Luke 11:9
3. Let the Holy Spirit transform you.
Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:23–24
4. Grab Your Spiritual Weapons.
We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 2 Corinthians 10:3–4
5. Know the Truth.
You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
6. Guard your heart and mind.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7b
7. Obediently follow where God leads.
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps. 2 Peter 2:21
There is a quote that says.
Make time for the quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud. ~ Author Unknown
That’s my goal.
I will most likely still watch news programs that agitate me. I know I’m a glutton for punishment. But I think I’ll watch fewer going forward. I think I’ll spend less time scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, too.
Rather than focusing on an angry shouting world, I want to quietly listen for the Spirit’s whispered truth that prepares and equips me to follow Jesus.
You and I live in The Worldly Kingdom but by God’s grace in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we don’t have to be of it.
We can rise above the controversy and chaos and with God’s help, we can focus on and enjoy The Spiritual Kingdom’s blessings of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
That my friend, is freedom giving truth that will help you thrive!
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