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Choosing between KingdomsPosted Thursday, October 20, 2011, at 5:29 PM
If you are a student of the Bible -- and specifically the New Testament -- you know that Jesus of Nazareth spoke frequently about what He called the "Kingdom of God" ... and sometimes simply "the Kingdom."
Many times He was comparing the Kingdom to things people of His day knew about. At other times He spoke about how to gain entry into the Kingdom of God -- how easy it would be for some and hard it might be for others.
In the gospels alone the phrase appears at least 53 times, and you can find it in over 78 passages throughout the New Testament.
Even after the resurrection, the Bible tells us that Jesus was preaching the Kingdom.
"After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the Kingdom of God." Acts 1:3
I would submit to you that (1) if Jesus spoke and taught so much about the Kingdom of God -- it may well have been His primary message -- and (2) if the remainder of the New Testament refers to the Kingdom in numerous places, that the Kingdom of God must be a pretty important topic for believers.
But what would be the antithesis of the Kingdom of God? What would stand opposed to the Kingdom as far as our lives are concerned?
I believe it is the system of the world.
You see, according to the Word of God, there are two kingdoms that operate around us -- the Kingdom of God and another kingdom the Bible calls by various names, most often the kingdom of darkness. The Bible also calls this kingdom "the World."
This system opposes the Kingdom of God. It is governed by the spirit of selfishness and is ruled by the enemy. Everything we have learned in our lives -- except the true teachings of the Bible -- has been based on worldly concepts and principles: from the way we conduct our relationships to the way we handle our finances and everything in between. Simply put, you and I were born into a world system that is corrupt. The entire system seems to be built on what I John 2:16 calls "the lust of the yes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life."
And it is doomed.
Look around you. Notice anything strange? All of those things the world tells us will protect us and help us in our old age and make us secure, even make us younger (or at least make us appear younger and help us to feel younger) have proven to be false. Investments have been lost or stolen or misspent or misappropriated. The American Dream has become a nightmare for some. Others are struggling to survive and are having a tough time keeping their heads above water.
But we have a choice. We can choose to live with a Kingdom mindset -- knowing and relying on the promises of God and His word, or we can choose to live our lives by the world's system.
For some it will not be an easy choice. After all, choosing God's kingdom will mean saying "no" to and letting go of the fleshly pleasures the world offers: it will mean saying "no" to the daily seduction and constant enticement of the world and its corrupt way of doing things.
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Bob Stewart is pastor of Union Baptist Church. His long-running column ranges in topic from matters of faith to observations about life in Saline County, politics and the sights to see in travels throughout America.