Being born again is to believe in Jesus - Who He is, His works, His words, His mission, His commandments. It is to choose to follow Him, to walk as He walked on this earth and to be submitted to His will. If we are truly born again, it has altered our lives and changed the way we see everything. It changes the way we think, act, and speak. It should change our relationships, our priorities and our mission in life. It gives us entrance into God’s kingdom because we are now children of God.
What happens when we turn from our sins and surrender our lives to Jesus? What changes? Our spirit is awakened, enabling us to see and operate within the kingdom of God right here and now. Paul put it this way in writing to the Ephesians. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” We are now in the kingdom of God just like Jesus was and is. Are we living fully in the kingdom of God?
We tend to think we cannot live in the kingdom of God until our bodies die, but that is not what Jesus said. “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21 NKJV)
Jesus taught us through example to function in kingdom principles now. He came in the flesh to show us what the kingdom of God is like and how it operates. He showed us, even though He was flesh and blood, how we can live in God’s kingdom and this world at the same time. What did He do? Let’s look at what Jesus said He came to do.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” And He accomplished His mission. Then He delegated that mission to His disciples, and because the Holy Spirit was given to them, they were able to work by the same power and wisdom that Jesus had to spread the gospel and do mighty works. They followed Jesus’ pattern. We have the same Holy Spirit and the same mission. Are we living in the kingdom of God?
Another thing Jesus showed us is that God’s kingdom is a place where the will of God is always done. If it requires a miracle, there will be a miracle. If it requires the teaching of a hard saying, we need to be bold to teach it. If it requires compassion and sacrifice, then we are to have compassion and make the sacrifice. We are always to be completely dependent on and obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit within us. He will lead us into all Truth and help us to do the will of God.
It seems we are missing something of the power and wisdom of God’s kingdom. And we don’t have to. Maybe we need to re-learn what it means to live in compliance with the principles of God’s kingdom even while living in this world. Start putting it into practice one step at a time. If His commandments seem hard, even unreasonable, that only shows how far we have strayed from God’s Word and how ingrained this world is within us. Go back to the gospels and compare what you do and say to what Jesus taught. Compare His responses to others to your responses. Using Jesus as the example to follow can seem overwhelming, but we can do it by yielding minute by minute to the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
When we are born again, our citizenship is in the kingdom of God. We are in this world but not of it. Yet, we are ambassadors from God’s kingdom to this world. According to the dictionary, an ambassador is “a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative.” We have been delegated to speak and act on God’s behalf in this world. How are we doing? What depiction of God is this world seeing through us? We are to be following the example Jesus gave us and walk, talk, love, rebuke, and act like Jesus. If we don’t, no wonder the world rejects Him. They are seeing an imposter.
We have at our disposal the power of God’s kingdom. We need to learn to use it for the glory of God and for the salvation of people who as yet don’t know Him. We have the Word of God that too many don’t have. We have understanding into the things of God’s Spirit by the Spirit Himself and we need to share those things with others.
Why should we follow the principles of this world when God’s principles are clearly stated in His written Word and in our hearts? Why should we turn away from the work Jesus calls us to? Why should we continue in sin when the Truth has set us free? Why are we not telling others about the kingdom of God? Why do we not see the power of the Holy Spirit move through us when He has been given to us?
We start out our new lives wanting to know what God says, what He has made available to us and what we can do to please Him. Over the course of years we see other Christians who are not as faithful in their walk with Jesus. Their lives are powerless and mostly focused on this world, but they have positions in the church and seem to be okay. So we get lax by following their example instead of using Jesus as our pattern. Then we pass on to the next generation our watered-down gospel, and their influence is even more diluted in their lives as they pass down a hardly recognizable gospel to the following generation. Just how far have we come from the teachings of Jesus concerning the kingdom of God? It’s time to return to the Bible and take Jesus at His Word. There are many well-meaning paraphrases of the Bible today that just may be watering down Jesus’ words. Be careful to read a valid translation. We are neither set free or commanded by the opinions of others, but only by the Truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the life. We need to be cautious so as not to be misled by opinion. It is a narrow way that leads to life. If we seek out Truth and allow Truth to set our course, we will be safe.
When we read something in the Bible that convicts us of our need to change in that area, do we allow Him to change us? When the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts to do a certain thing, are we quick to obey His voice? Or do we compare what He asks of us to what others are doing?
We need to open our eyes to see what we do, what we give priority, what we neglect in the light of God’s Word. Are we bringing His kingdom among us like Jesus did, or have we fallen back into the pattern of this world? Be careful not to get so acclimated to this world that no one can catch even a glimpse of Jesus in you.
As this world gets darker and darker, we need to shine the light of God’s Truth brighter than ever before. If we are not careful we can be lulled by the rhythms of this world and turn our eyes back to accomplishing things here instead of in the kingdom of God. That is a mistake, because we come in and out of this world like a flash. But what we accomplish here for the kingdom of God will last forever. This world lures us in to make us comfortable here, but God draws us closer to Him. Let’s never forget our position as ambassadors in this world. We may say, “well I know where I’m going, so I don’t care what happens.” But what about all those who haven’t heard the gospel? Where will they be?
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15)
Pray and ask God what is your part in reaching the world for Christ. We are all called in different capacities to get the one work done – sending the gospel into all the world. Do we still feel our responsibility for lost souls? Do we still have compassion for those who have not heard? Do we recognize the blessing of God in our lives for those of us who know Him? Freely we have received, we must also freely give.
Are you living in the kingdom of God?