Kingdom 101 insists we place the Kingdom of Jesus in proper light. If we get too wrapped up in church before we understand the Kingdom, we will (and have historically) gotten things in misplaced order. As I talk about this I don’t want you to think that I don’t love the church. I have taught and served as a pastor for over 45 years, and feel Burnadette and I have dedicated ourselves without reservation to Jesus’ Bride. It’s just that if we do not place our King first it seriously impairs what we have to offer His Bride. So for clarity, there is a difference to me when speaking of the church and the Bride of Christ. The church is being purified into a spotless Bride to be married to Christ, right? This is why she has so many historical imperfections – yet we are being prepared for something future. The church is and has always been filled with imperfect people, of which I am foremost. If Jesus is the Door to the Kingdom (and He says He is in John 10) then humility is the latch or handle to that door. Perhaps even the kingdom keys are a gift to every Christ-follower (the key of King David – what a great women thread! Isaiah 22:22; Luke 11:52; Matthew 16:19; Revelation 1:8; 3:7.
Have you ever wondered why the Pharisees were so prominent in Jesus’ human conflict? It because pride is the number one enemy of humanity. The religious leaders were the epitome of the pride of Israel. Jesus’ conflict with the Romans was comparatively minimal. It was the religious pride of the scribes and Pharisees that embodied the scorn of satan. According to Jesus this deep arrogance resulted in all sorts of bullying religious behavior, and He spoke harshly right to the faces of these leaders. So – like today – oppression is the rule whenever men can manipulate power over others. This is another reason why I think that humility is the “key to the Kingdom” that Jesus gave to Peter (Matthew 16:19).
Jesus came in the opposite manner than was expected. The Jews wanted a political deliverer who would set them free from Roman occupation. But His power was perfected through humility, not human force. This is another woven thread that is often not taught or embraced. When we encounter the King of the universe we are to bend. This is how we enter into His Kingdom. It is a wholly different way to live. We bend to the King and we enter through the Door of Jesus with our keys to the Kingdom. The Bride of Christ thrives when such humility is embraced. This is not weakness, but conviction of faith and humility of heart and action. It is why we are to go the extra mile. It is why we are to forgive our enemies and bless them. It is why we are not to trust in ourselves but to wait upon His good spirit.
When an individual seeker becomes a Kingdom follower we are given a directive: follow the example of the King. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and I am with you always, all the way to the end of the age.” He has the authority. He is side by side with us. He is doing the “work” of the Kingdom through us. It is so simple yet we often make is so complicated or even convoluted.
From such humility is birthed the power of all non-religious following of Messiah. While religion may provide certain comforts, it is no substitute for the connectivity we have been given with the Spirit living inside of us. Remember what He said: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” – John 16:13
This is not merely what the Church is to DO, it is who the Church is to BE. So when the King comes into our personal world, we bend our will and bow our knee. We begin to live as His loyal, learning Kingdom subjects. And then the Church in any decade becomes His representative on earth. Or not. There is nothing in the scriptures equating religion with His Kingdom. Devotion does not correlate to religion. This has been a colossal human error in history, and not just in historic christianity. It remains so today. Our power is not from our observances or activities but our connectivity with our King. “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
King first – then Kingdom – then Church. Jesus mentions the church only 2 times in the Gospels. He speaks of the Kingdom over 100 times. Why do you think this is? Again, I am not denigrating the church. I am pointing out God’s Kingdom order. When a person understands that Jesus alone is the Door of the Kingdom, that the keys to the Kingdom are humility of heart and devotion to the King, and that the Church springs from the presence of the King and His Kingdom (and not the other way around) we set aside religious spirituality for Kingdom connectivity.
You and I must see ourselves in this picture. We are a part of a great treasure: the Bride of Christ. And we are also each valued sons and daughters, with full rights and ability to hear the Voice of our King each day. We are not destined to live lives of perfection, but lives of connected faith. We can count on this from our King: “Come to Me, all who are weary and weighed down, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and be taught by Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is bearable.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Welcome to the courageous, restful Kingdom Heart!
Dave and Burnadette