Ahh…the Kingdom of Christ. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with children who consider themselves kings. (They live in our homes, attend our churches, play soccer together – you get the picture.) They may know about discipline, authority and obedience; maybe even that those things come from God and return to Him in worship. Yet, inevitably (when a sibling perpetrates a self-defined no-no) the real views of the little regents become clear: my rules, my judgments, and my kingdom. So much of their experience of joy in this life is wrapped up in their comforts, their peace, and their prosperity. Of course, they are just like the rest of us only it’s usually easier to see in them.
What makes them childish in their thinking is they lack the vision to see how temporal joys and discomforts fit into the bigger picture. I find grown-ups who think this way. The John 10:10 Life is the here-and-now life. We’ve seen how this thinking extends to our parenting: our efforts and goals with our children do not extend beyond the planes of the here-and-now-plus-maybe-high-school-graduation.
The gospel directly affects kingdoms. It brings one that we didn’t know anything about right into the throne rooms of our kingdoms – it swims the moats and scales the walls subduing all the guards. Its presence there is beautifully crushing: over time, all the vestiges of our former reign melt under the weight of the glory of the kingdom of God. Its effects transcend time and space unlike our own pitiful realms. Whereas its approach was unexpected and unknown, in Christ, we have been given this kingdom via the indwelling Holy Spirit. In Christ, it is as much yours as your two lips!
I was reading in John Calvin’s Institutes about Christ as King (book 2, chapter 14, paragraph 4). Here’s a sample of what he wrote:
…the whole course of our lives [is] to war under the cross, our condition here is bitter and wretched. What then would it avail us to be ranged under the government of a heavenly King, if its benefits were not realised beyond the present earthly life? We must, therefore, know that the happiness which is promised to us in Christ does not consist in external advantages—such as leading a joyful and tranquil life, abounding in wealth, being secure against all injury, and having an affluence of delights, such as the flesh is wont to long for—but properly belongs to the heavenly life. As in the world the prosperous and desirable condition of a people consists partly in the abundance of temporal good and domestic peace, and partly in the strong protection which gives security against external violence; so Christ also enriches his people with all things necessary to the eternal salvation of their souls and fortifies them with courage to stand unassailable by all the attacks of spiritual foes.
We should not be child-like in thinking that this new realm’s reach is only as small as our own peace, comfort and affluence; that the keys are no worry, no pain and no effort. While in this life trouble might be a large portion of our lot, it will always be mingled with the grace of God in the face of Christ. And beyond? Trouble we will leave behind and all that we longed for here and now (that make terrible gods) will be ours because He will manifestly be ours. Praise God for His steadfast and enduring love!