Everyone is living for a kingdom and a king.
We all have visions of an existence for ourselves and others that describe the way things should be and who should oversee this reality. We fight for, and invest in, those things that encapsulate that vision.
Whether measured in money, power, justice, equality or any number of means, we all secure our hopes to a kingdom that represents the greatest utopia we could imagine. We celebrate it. We yearn for it. We fight for it.
As Christians, we claim to be citizens of a Kingdom both already and not yet fully realized. In that case, our lives should display a picture of Christ’s Kingdom as we yearn and wait while exiled from our eternal home. We should celebrate, yearn for and fight for it.
But author and philosopher James K.A. Smith says, “While being human means we can’t not love something ultimate – some version of the kingdom – it doesn’t mean we necessarily love the right things, or the true King. God has created us for himself and our hearts are designed to find their end in him, yet many spend their days restlessly craving rival gods, frenetically pursuing rival kingdoms.”
So how do we know if we are pursuing rival kingdoms – even in the name of the one true King?
Try this: list a few things that you love. Not just like you love Braum’s ice cream or the Thunder, but what you truly desire, sacrifice for, invest yourself in; what pulls at your soul, what you celebrate, what you love.
Then follow that love to where it naturally finds its end. What do you discover?
Often we discover our loves follow this pattern:
I love _______ because it ___________ me.
I love social media because it entertains me.
I love my spouse because they care for me.
I love my friends because they bring happiness to me.
I love my church because the music and preaching are pleasing to me.
In these scenarios, we see our loves are serving what is displayed as our ultimate end – ourselves. The end of our desires is a kingdom of our preference and choosing. It is our kingdom, and we are the kings.
But for the Christian truly living for the Kingdom of God, all our loves should find their end in the Kingdom of God. To be a Christian, in fact, is to surrender ourselves to a true King and His Kingdom.
Therefore our loves should follow this pattern:
I love __________ because it __________________ the kingdom of God.
I love the Bible because it tells of the kingdom of God.
I love the path of righteousness because it is the pathway to the kingdom of God.
I love songs of truth because they also echo and fill the kingdom of God.
I love suffering because it detaches me from this world and reminds me to keep my eyes on my home in the true kingdom of God.
I love the local church because it is a microcosm of the kingdom of God.
I love marriage because it is a reflection of the King and his people in the kingdom of God.
Like a mountain climber who tethers his rope to the most solid object he can find, we also tether the cables of our heart to that which we believe is most able to hold our very selves. We trust it. It becomes our hope.
Yet only one kingdom will be fully realized after all others are burned in the refining fire of time and it won’t be mine.
For each of us, it is important that we take time to consider the trajectories of our hearts. These trajectories will be evidenced by the investment of our time, thought life, energy, resources and habits.
Have you laid down your desire for any kingdom but God’s? Do you live for a kingdom where God is King or you are king? Would you be willing to consider your loves and discern what kingdom they are tethered to?
Matt. 6:10 – “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
2 Peter 1:10-11 – “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”