November 23, 2002
Seek First the Kingdom (Mt. 6:33)
"Repent! The kingdom of God is at hand!" Mk 1:15, our translation
Jesus told us to present His gospel by proclaiming that the kingdom of God is at hand (Mt 10:7). He commanded us to seek first His kingdom and then everything else would be given to us (Mt 6:33). Whenever we pray, we should pray for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven (Mt 6:10). He gave His Church the keys of the kingdom (Mt 16:19). When Jesus healed and delivered people from the evil one, these were signs of the kingdom (Lk 11:20). The Last Supper was a kingdom-celebration (Mt 26:29). Jesus was even put to death because He claimed to be the King of the Jews (Lk 23:38). Jesus repeatedly emphasizes that the gospel is to be presented in terms of the kingdom.
Yet most Christians today never think of Christianity as the building of a kingdom. They think in terms of personal relationship with Jesus, membership in a church, salvation, or life in the Spirit. These are essential aspects of God's kingdom, but we must see the whole kingdom-vision if we are to live a true, Biblical Christianity.
This pamphlet seeks to present a vision of God's kingdom: how real it is, and how different it is from the form of government we're accustomed to. This will prepare us to make a decision to give all that we have to become active citizens in God's kingdom.
GOD'S KINGDOM VS. THE WORLD
"Jesus answered: 'My kingdom does not belong to this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My subjects would be fighting to save Me from being handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom is not here.' " John 18:36
The government that we are most familiar with is the republic of the USA. Contrasting the kingdom of God with our form of government, may help us get a new perspective on God's kingdom.
|Origins|| The American Revolution 1776
Declaration of Independence
| Jesus' incarnation, crucifixion and death, resurrection and
ascension; and the Holy Spirit's coming at Pentecost
declaration of utter dependence on Jesus, interdependence on our Christian brothers and sisters, and independence from Satan
|Territory|| part of North America, including Hawaii, and a few other islands
capitol in Washington D.C.
| in heaven with a branch on earth
in the hearts of people of all nations (Lk 17:21)
|Becoming a Citizen|| by being born of U.S. parents
or by a certain length of residency and by passing a test
| by re-birth only (Jn 3:3, 5)|
|Government|| Three branches: (executive, legislative, judicial)|| Three persons in God: (the Holy Trinity working through the Church)|
|Selection of Leaders|| only a few citizens are leaders, who are elected by the vote of the people, except for the appointment of some judges and executive branch leaders|| all citizens are leaders elected by God|
|Laws|| the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other legislation passed by the Congress, state, and city|| the laws of the Church and the Bible|
|Law Enforcement|| apprehension and punishment of offenders through the police, the judicial system, and prisons|| love for offenders expressed in conviction, forgiveness, and mercy|
|Foreign Policy|| based on military strength and diplomacy|| no military army, but a spiritual army (see Eph 6:12)
both a servant to other governments and a sign of contradiction to them (see Lk 2:34)
|The Economy|| capitalism|| Christian stewardship, community sharing, and simple life-style.|
|Financing of the Government|| by taxes collected by the government and enforced by the police and judicial system|| by tithes and alms given on the "honor system" (There is no collection or enforcement agency.)|
|School System|| public schools run by school board and school superintendents|| parents as the primary educators, teachers as helpers to parents|
|Life-Laws|| generally, human life protected from birth to death
| human life protected from conception into eternity
|Government Symbols|| American eagle
| the lamb
|The Future|| will be destroyed|| will never end|
"Jesus, remember me when You enter upon Your reign (kingdom)." Luke 23:42
The difference between our government and God's kingdom can be at first overwhelming, but these differences can attract us to God's kingdom. I personally like the fact that my Leader does not live in the White House but had nowhere to lay His head when He was establishing His kingdom here on earth (Lk 9:58). I'm attracted by a kingdom of love, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rm 14:17). I want a kingdom that is not just words but power (1 Cor 4:20). I'm thankful for a kingdom where there's no violence against babies in the womb, against the poor, or against people of foreign nations.
If you love King Jesus enough to want to become an active citizen in His kingdom, decide to sell all that you have to buy the precious pearl of God's kingdom (Mt 13:46). Like the good thief, ask Jesus to accept you into His kingdom (Lk 23:42). In God's kingdom, you don't "pledge allegiance" to a flag but pledge total submission to Jesus. If you have decided to become an active citizen in submission to King Jesus, make the following commitment:
I pledge submission to King Jesus and to uniting all things under Him (Eph 1:10) and to His kingdom which will always stand one kingdom, under God, invincible, with liberty, justice, and mercy for all.
Congratulations! You have purchased the pearl of great price and become an active citizen in God's kingdom. Now proclaim: "The kingdom of God is at hand!"
Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, July 2, 1991
Imprimatur: Most Reverend James H. Garland, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 5, 1991