Living With The Purpose of The Kingdom
I was a pretty fearless child. At an early age I became an expert in doing jumps off all manner of obstacles on my small push scooter. My efforts pale in comparison to Robbie Maddison’s motorcycle jumping. His determination in the face of huge obstacles remind us of what a life oriented towards achieving a particular purpose looks like.
Jesus too called his followers to live with a particular purpose. They were not to break world records, but rather to ‘seek first his kingdom and his righteousness’ (Matthew 6:33). Elsewhere he told parables about this kingdom (Matthew 13:33; Mark 4:3-20). This was the coming kingdom of heaven – the spiritual realm over which God alone reigns as King. Jesus offered forgiveness for all those who would abandon lives lived distant from the purposes of God, and he offered them a role in proclaiming the advance of this kingdom. But what does it look like to live a life in accordance with this purpose?
Jesus’ own teaching (Acts 1:1-11) gives us some answers to this pressing question. In the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, Jesus taught his followers about the Holy Spirit and the kingdom of heaven. There was little time for celebration. Death was defeated, but there remained the task of further equipping the citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
One of the hallmarks of a kingdom-minded life is selfless determination in the face of competing priorities. When the disciples question Jesus they wanted the immediate restoration of an earthly kingdom (Acts 1:6). Instead, Jesus Himself spoke of a spiritual kingdom, that would advance slowly, and for the benefit of all (Mark 4:30-32). There is a lesson for us too in how Jesus redirects their confused thinking away from personal concerns about peripheral worldly deadlines and dates, and towards a resolute focus on their mission and achieving the purpose to which they were called (Acts 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
Second, the power of the Spirit is key to living for purposes of the kingdom. The disciples are explicitly told to wait to receive it before they set to work (Acts 1:4). The Spirit equips communities and individuals to remain focused on the purpose of the kingdom of heaven (Romans 14:17). It is the Spirit that enabled the spread of the good news of the kingdom of heaven, and the many Christian believers around the world today are the fulfilment of the disciples’ obedience to the leading of the Spirit.
Finally, we must be on our guard in case we too are caught longingly gazing into the skies for the promised return of Jesus. The words of the ‘men in white’ are there to encourage us (Acts 1:10-11). Although we can be daunted by the purpose given to us by Jesus, we are reminded that we are to be resolute in proclaiming the kingdom of heaven. When our doubts or insecurities might seem to hinder us from achieving this purpose, the Spirit will guide and empower us as we continue with the same purpose before Jesus’ return.
How is the story of the kingdom of heaven playing out in your life?
Who are the people that you can testify to about Jesus?