You live in a kingdom. I live in a kingdom. Actually, we all live in the same kingdom, but we don’t all know that we do. There is of course the make-believe kingdom in which many of us try to live. No, I’m not talking about a fairy tale kingdom with a handsome prince on a white stallion some of you ladies dreamed about as girls. Nor am I talking about a kingdom with a pot of gold, like most all of you men still dream about.
The make-believe kingdom I’m talking about is the one you think you rule over. You are king or queen of your castle, and you sit atop the throne. Although this kingdom is make-believe, it looks so very real. As a matter of fact, this kingdom is all you can see.
Then there is the real Kingdom, the one we can’t see as well, the one about which Jesus spoke constantly. The one in which he wants us all to live. The one he wanted us to see. This is the one for which he died, so that the gate could be so easily entered by those who want to be subjects of the King.
Wouldn’t everyone? No. Many may think they want to enter, but few want to be subjects. Most want to rule their little make-believe kingdoms. Some want to partner their kingdoms with God, but not be subjected to the rule of the King.
There are those who can actually see this real Kingdom. The ones who cannot typically don’t want to see it. They don’t want to give up their thrones, make-believe though they are. The glitter of their own palace pageantry seduces and blinds them.
Could this be you?
But just as silly and as powerless as the Wizard of Oz looked once he was exposed behind the curtain of his kingdom, so it will be for those ruling their make-believe kingdoms, when they are exposed – which they will ultimately be. That is a certainty.
For years, even after I was born again, I fought to protect my kingdom. I finally surrendered my throne to Jesus completely only a few years ago. Yet from time to time I still revert to seeking first the kingdom of Sam, not “seeking first the Kingdom of God”, as Jesus commanded us in his Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 6:33)
Let me point out this is a command, not a suggestion. There are many places where Jesus precedes a statement with an “if,” as in, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) And, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor ….” (Matthew 19:21)
These if invitations are about going deeper into the Kingdom. Jesus knows full well that out of the few who really want to be subjects in the Kingdom, fewer still will have the passion to dig deeper. Thus he invites those with an if, not a command.
But the “Seek first the Kingdom of God” is not preceded with an if. Could it be he knows there will be a king in our lives, one way or another? Could it be Jesus knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we will either seek to be our own kings, or God the Father will be our King?
Jesus knows seeking to be our own kings will lead to masters such as money or success or manna of all sorts or … (let’s just cut the list short and say Satan, because he will ultimately be our king)
I have learned over the years, anything Jesus commands us to do is for our own good, not his. He knows if we seek first our kingdom, before his, we will never find any peace, any contentment, and certainly no joy. He knows we will miss the A+ “life that is truly life.” (1Timothy 6:19)
And he knows we will wreak havoc on our lives and the lives of those around us.
His commands are always for our best, and so it is with, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” Yet so often I still want to be king of my own castle, despite the long list of problems this has always – always! – caused. What is wrong with me? Am I that stupid?
Don’t answer that.
Whenever I climb back up on my throne I can imagine Jesus looking at me, as he did the disciples, and saying, “Don’t you know me, Sam, even after I have been among you such a long time?” (John 14:9)
Allow me to elaborate for Jesus: “After all these years of following me, Sam, and after all the previous times you insisted on being king of your castle and it collapsed, don’t you know me well enough to know I am a loving, caring, providing, compassionate, giving and forgiving king? Don’t you know me well enough to know you want me to be your King, and not you?”
This Fall we will be journeying from the “Kingdom of Me” to the “Kingdom of Him.” We’ll look at the starts and stops of this process, and the accompanying pitfalls each time we insist yet again on being “King of my Castle.” Peter will join us, as will a few ladies from the Biblical stories, to example for us what it looks like to try to be king, or queen.
I hope you’ll join us.