Of a Higher Kingdom…

We Christians are sometimes the biggest hypocrites. We’re given a standard of living to judge ourselves with, but in our sinful nature, we take it and judge others. Overlooking our own sins, not seeing the plank in our own eye, is what makes us hypocritical. Some might think that it’s not our fault; that because of our sinful nature mixed with the commandments of Jesus, we’re like a five year old who was given a hand gun but told not to play with it. But I think it has something to do with our spiritual lethargy; that, because we are lazy in truly seeking God, we’re less able to be alert of our own sins and failures, which only promotes the possibility of hypocrisy.

The longer I spend reading the Bible, praying, or going to church, the more I realize that following Jesus is so difficult. I mean, when He says “Seek the narrow path,” He was probably thinking of a tightrope as the road to walk. I don’t have that great of balance. I sometimes fall while doing absolutely nothing simply because I forget that I’m standing. This happens a lot spiritually, too. Sometimes I get so wrapped up with the small cares of this world that I forget to stand for Christ, to live by His teachings. No wonder Jesus kept telling His disciples to stay awake and to be on their guard.

Living in the world is distracting. Just look at how dependent we are on technology. It’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it is a very distracting thing. It only takes one website (Facebook) to distract me for hours. It’s really sad sometimes to think about it because at the end of the day, instead of feeling at peace in Christ, I’m left worrying about little things like papers and grades and jobs and careers. Instead of being able to trust with full confidence in Christ’s provision, I’m worrying about it all. Why? Because I forgot that I was standing.

Ephesians 6:10-20 is one of my favorite passages in Scripture and one repeated phrase throughout it all is Paul’s exhortation to stand. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand…. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness…” It’s clear that what Jesus gives us, the power bestowed upon us, isn’t a strength to conquer our worldly enemies, to prove our religion the right one, or to keep people from being turned into monkeys. It’s a spiritual power to stand even though everything around us may fall apart. And just like many good things in this world, it requires that we fight. We must fight for purity, for justice, for our children, for our friendships, for our marriages, for our freedom, and definitely for our faith.

No, I do not mean we need to take up arms like the Crusades and charge the Muslim mosques or the Jewish synagogues; we don’t fight like that. When Paul wrote those words, he explicitly added in “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” (Eph. 6:12). It’s an entirely different ball game with an entirely different set of rules.

The first rule is the same as the second and the third and the fourth and the fifth and all the way down until you get tired of writing numbers: love. Love God, love Jesus, love the Spirit, love your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your friends, your enemies, your employers, your employees, your master, your slave, the Greek, the Jew, the black, the white, the poor, the rich, the middle class, the upper middle class, the lower middle class, the taxi driver, the coffee barista, the waiter who spilled your drink, the janitor who splashed his mop on your new shoes, the one who robbed your house, the one who mocked you, the one who spit on you, the one who slapped you across the cheek; love anyone and everyone as freely and as abundantly as possible because we are from a different Kingdom and we fight with a different weapon; a weapon that is – to this day – undefeated: love. Love not until you get tired of loving or until your love is not returned; love until faith becomes sight.

And as you might see already, this love, this calling of the different Kingdom, demands our entire lives, our all. But such is the case in a world rotting with the disease of sin. Such is the case when our entire lives are meant to be defined by how we love instead of what our bankroll is. Such is the case when we’re made to be poured out as drink offerings; living sacrifices to counterbalance the hate and destruction that has run rampant throughout the world.

When all of what Jesus said is considered, we realize that we have absolutely no time be hypocrites; we can’t afford it. So why should we even begin to argue and judge others by what they believe or what they don’t believe? Don’t the Scriptures say, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18)? If that’s the case, why then do fuss so much over who says what and why and what Scriptures were taken out of context? Why should we subject ourselves to the standards of this world when we’re called to live for another? I say this fully aware of my own arguments, of my own hypocrisy. The very act of asking these rhetorical questions is an argument itself.

But then again, that’s exactly why I write; to gather together all those who love Jesus and want to live their lives by His standard, to unify us under His banner and take back His creation. We start with the one in the mirror and let Christ take over from there. In order to do that, though, we can’t fall asleep. The kingdom we live for is above and beyond any religion; it’s a relationship that thrives off of Jesus’ love.

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Jeremy

Cherokee / Whovian / Sherlockian / Aspiring Auror / Lover of Jesus, Scripture, and creativity / MATS Student at George Fox Seminary.

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