Creating a Learning Network for Kingdom Builders!
What does it mean to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God and how SHOULD our Kingdom citizenship affect the way we live our life on a daily basis?
(This is not comprehensive, I hope to provoke thought and, perhaps, discussion. My assumptions and propositions are based on http://www.kingdomstandards.com although I take personal responsibility for what I am saying here.)
First, I think it is self evident that being a citizen of the Kingdom of God SHOULD mean something and, second, I believe that it SHOULD affect our daily lifestyle.
In earthly nations what defines you as a citizen or just a member of that People group includes things like language, homeland (or aspirations for a homeland), cultural way life, common history and heritage, and often a few basic beliefs that are part of the national identity.
Nations are ordained by God, He is the source of their sovereignty and existence in general and they are ultimately judged by how well they pursue both His general truth regarding nations and His unique will for that nation. Nations, and whole civilizations, rise and fall according to God’s pre-determined plan but also according to how well they serve God’s purpose within the time and space allotted to them.
The Kingdom of God is a nation also, but it isn’t an earthly nation, it has always existed and it will always exist.
Some might argue that we can’t use the same kind of qualifiers for the Kingdom of God as we do for defining your earthly nationhood, but God Himself has defined nationhood and He has ordained nations. In other words, the basic premise of nationhood is not an earthly or human invention, it is a “shadow” of the ultimate nationhood, Kingdom Citizenship.
As such, we can argue that Kingdom Citizenship is more than a notional concept, that it really does mean something and that, because we are Kingdom Citizens, it should really impact our daily lifestyle- our behavior, our choices, our actions, and our relationships should all be in line with what it means to be a Kingdom Citizen.
We have to ask ourselves a few questions:
What is the common language of the Kingdom of God that we call share?
This doesn’t mean a literal language, like English or French or Chinese, but in our case it means we define the key Christian concepts in the same way, that we are honest in our language, and that we don’t confuse terms.
Take words, and concepts, like discipleship, church, fellowship, being a witness, being an apostle, or prophet, a pastor, an evangelist, or a teacher. All of these words actually have different meanings based on denominations.
There are in fact objective ways to define what these words really mean in Scripture, and we should all be open minded about finding what the Bible actually says so that we can speak the same language with one another.
What is our homeland?
I would say it is two things, chiefly: the Kingdom to come, which is the literal reign of Christ in person that culminates in the creation of a New Heavens and a New Earth, and the Kingdom of God among us, which is established by our connections, commitments in a spiritual covenant bond with fellow Christians.
So we can look to the Kingdom to Come as our ultimate homeland, but we can BE a spiritual homeland to one another by intentionally connecting in a meaningful way with all the Christians we come into regular contact with where we live, work, worship, and etc.
So our homeland isn’t earthly, but the very concept of a homeland is a place of security and of provision, and wherever we live God is our protector and our provider, and He will not share this role with anyone else. If we look to ourselves, our denomination, our earthly ethnicity, or anything else other than God than we sort of “step out of” our spiritual homeland!
What is our culture and way of life?
I would propose that there are a few key things that should define our common Kingdom Culture.
We should be devoted to the things the first Christians were devoted to: they were devoted to the great commandments which include loving God and loving one another; they were devoted to the great commission which is to make disciples; and they were devoted to such “family” practices as understanding the Bible together (the Apostle’s teachings), eating together as a spiritual exercise and in communion within one another (including communion itself), fellowship in sharing with one another, and prayer both with and for one another knowing that God is our protector and our provider.
We should be activating and equipping one another to practice the basic or “gateway” skills for building the Kingdom among us based on those five famous “ministries” God gave the “church” (ecclesia) which include the Planting skills associated with an Apostles, the Perceiving skills associated with a Prophet, the Guiding skills associated with a Pastor, the Proclaiming skills associated with an Evangelist, and the Imparting skills associated with an Teacher.
We can ALL develop these skills, regardless of our “position” or title. We can do this whether we are serving in a full-time ministry or not. We could argue that equipping and sending people out to the greater Christian community and the natural community to function as a salt and light witness for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom by using these skills is a hallmark of a “Kingdom Ministry”. A Kingdom ministry is clearly different than a private ministry that is building a temporal kingdom of men rather than the Kingdom of God AMONG men.
What is our common history and heritage?
Of course, the WHOLE Word of God is the basis of our common history and heritage, but also we should look to those who have come before us, not just their mistakes, as seems to be the fashion, but to what they did right or what they at least tried to do.
I am dumfounded at how badly Christians treat the great heroes of the faith in the past. Of course, we must measure ALL truth by the Word of God, but we must also be willing to honor and respect those who came before us, to find wisdom in their experiences, including of course even their mistakes.
I am struck by the similarity between the lives of our great Christian heroes, men like Charlemagne or Augustine, and the Biblical heroes, like King David and the Apostle Paul: they are ALL flawed, all made bad decisions and were wrong about some of the things they did, but God still used them and honored them with His favor, because He alone knows the heart.
We should be honest about the mistakes that were made, but we should not disparage our own history or heritage or condemn our ancestors because we somehow think we “know better”.
In conclusion, being a Kingdom Citizen should be a much bigger deal in our lives than it is now, and it should be an identity and way of living that is far more cherished and far more central to our own personal identity than out earthly nationhood or denominations.
I am not arguing that earthly nationhood or even our denominations are such bad things, that is all part of our diversity, but we are not “out of many, one”, in other words a hodgepodge of different things lumped into one thing: we are “out of one, many”, in other words, in our core essence we are of the ONE and our differences are man but they are minor.
The Word of God says that “from one blood” God made “many nations”- that’s the idea. The “one blood” for us is the Blood of Christ, the “nations” are the diverse ways we express the ONE Kingdom, but in our core essence, we are ALL of the same Blood, and we should treat one another accordingly as family in service of our King, Jesus Christ, for the advancement of HIS Kingdom.