Yesterday, while preaching over 1 Corinthians 4:17-21, our pastor talked about the Kingdom of God. In doing so, he told us Paul delivered a message from the king to the kings citizens (that would be those who live in the King’s Kingdom as redeemed humanity ie Christians). The message Paul delivers to the citizens is the message of the cross, which is both the way into the kingdom and how we can live in the kingdom.
The Message of the Cross is the Way Into the Kingdom
Here is where the worldly idea of a king and his kingdom is turned on its head. In Christianity, the King comes down from His throne, takes the form of the rebels in His kingdom, dies for them, and purchases, by His blood, a way for those who are living as rebels in His kingdom to live at peace with Him in His kingdom.
In biblical language, we would say Jesus is the King, who came down off His throne in heaven, took the form of a man, and went to the cross for the sins of those who oppose Him (rebels). His death on the cross, and man’s subsequent belief in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, restores their relationship with God, so they can once again live in the kingdom as peaceful citizens. After Christ’s sacrifice and subsequent resurrection, God showed He approved of Jesus’ cross-work by giving Jesus the name that is above every name and making Him the King who rules over His kingdom (Philippians 2:5-11).
The Message of the Cross is the Way to Live in the Kingdom
As Christians we live in God’s kingdom, through the sacrifice of His Son, who is now the rightful ruler of the kingdom. Jesus’ sacrifice was a one time event that secures the citizenship of all those who make Him their Lord and Savior. Instead of earning their right to live in the kingdom daily by performing works that please the King, Christians, whose citizenship was bought by Christ’s blood (the King), are made citizens forever in the kingdom by God’s grace. This means, citizenship into, and forever in, Christ’s kingdom cannot be bought by good works, it can only be bought by the blood of the King Himself. What a wonderful thing to know that our citizenship is not contingent on our works; rather, it is the result of Christ’s sacrifice. A perfect, once for all sacrifice that is sufficient to restore our citizenship in the kingdom for all eternity.
With that in mind, we see that Christianity says both our entrance into and our stay in the kingdom of God are secured by the King’s sacrifice. Whereas, all other world religions are about doing something, Christianity is about believing in someone.
Christianity tells us that when we get up in the morning, we do not have to work to get God on our side, nor do we have to earn His gift of citizenship daily, His grace is already their waiting for us.
So then, when we feel like we need to work to earn God’s favor, or we are not feeling it one day, we need to preach the message of the cross to ourselves, in order to assure ourselves that our citizenship in the kingdom of God is both real and secure.
It also means that we live as citizens of the kingdom now. Paul tells us our citizenship is not of this world (Phil. 3:20). And he also tells Christians that if they want to live as citizens worthy of their citizenship, they are to stand firm against their enemies and be united with one another (Phil. 1:27-2:4). This shows that we live in the already, not yet. We live in the world, but our citizenship is not of this world. Rather it is of the kingdom of God.
However, Christ is reigning on His throne now over His kingdom, which includes both heaven and this world. As Christians, we are rightful citizens of Christ’s kingdom, and we should live as citizens of that kingdom now because He is ruling over His kingdom now. This means those who are not Christians, are living as rebels to our king and are living as such alongside us in Christ’s kingdom. So then, instead of viewing Christ’s kingdom and our citizenship in that kingdom as a distant reality, we need to view it as happening right now. This should have massive implications for the way in which we live, and the way we view those who reject Christianity and the rule of our King.
It also should have massive implications for the way we deal with our own resources. Christ is the King who is ruling over His Kingdom right now. As such, He has control over the resources in His kingdom. This means we should not feel that the resources (money, job, property) we have are ours and that we somehow earned them apart from the King providing them for us. Since these resources are not our own, but the Kings, and the King is the one who gave them to us, we should feel free to share our resources with others in the kingdom, knowing that our good and benevolent King desires to take care of His citizens by providing for them.