Pen Points 7
One Eternal Kingdom
There is only one kingdom that is eternal. Only one that stretches across time, physical boundaries, nations, tongues, and earthly rulers. Only one that is not dependent in any way upon kingdoms of the world. Only one that does not advance through shedding of blood or carnal warfare. Nor is its defense found in taking up swords and arms.
This is the kingdom of heavenly citizens, the New Jerusalem, those whose names are enrolled in heaven. Its citizens are strangers and pilgrims in Babylon, exiled, and longing for the return of their King whereupon the resurrection of life is theirs as they finally realize the new heavens and new earth, dwelling with God eternally.
This kingdom is the stone that crushes all others, not by military might or the power of worldly princes, but by the resilient spreading of God’s word and living lives committed even to death. The power of this kingdom is in the cross, the blood of the Lamb, the King who wields the two-edged sword from His mouth.
As soldiers of this kingdom, be careful about the entanglements of the world, for “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Tim 2:4). The world is not ours to love (1 John 2:15-17). Therefore, we do not put our trust in princes or the kingdoms whose powers are derived from the serpent of old. Every earthly power becomes our Babylon, and one day the call will be to return home.
“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”
To This You Are Called
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet 2:21).
We have been called to a purpose, but unless we understand Christ’s purpose, we will not understand our purpose. When Jesus asked the disciples who they thought he was, it was Peter who confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matt 16:16). But it was also Peter who, when Jesus told them that He had to suffer and die, objected. Jesus told him, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matt 16:23).
Peter properly confessed who Jesus is, but He didn’t understand Jesus’ purpose. He had his own ideas about what that purpose was supposed to be, and he became Jesus’ adversary at that moment.
We can properly confess Jesus’ identity, but that doesn’t mean we understand His purpose. And if we don’t understand His purpose, how can we possibly understand ours?
In context, Peter said we need to be willing to submit and to suffer, just like Jesus did. The problem is that we have other ideas about the nature of our purpose. “No, Lord, you don’t understand. We have rights. We aren’t supposed to suffer. And we don’t like being told what to do.” And Jesus would say, “Get behind Me, Satan…”
Until we align our purpose with Christ’s purpose, we are setting our minds on the things of men rather than God. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
Thinking Rooted in God
We “think” because, as human beings, we cannot avoid thinking. We are thinking creatures. Yet the fact of thinking is no guarantee that our thinking is good, worthwhile, or leads to correct conclusions. This is why we must continually reexamine our thoughts and conclusions, cross-checking ourselves to see what we think and why we think it. If we find that we are missing something, we must be willing change our minds. If we cannot do this, then thinking has been uncoupled from honesty, and this is never good, for then our thinking will be used only for the selfish ends of protecting misguided conclusions and foolish behavior. We’ve all been there.
Scripture warns about those whose thoughts become futile or worthless because they have given up on God (Rom 1:21; Eph 4:17-18). This points to the fact that proper thinking is connected to God as the foundation for all thought. Indeed without God thinking would not be possible at all for there would be no minds to think anything. It is at the heart of futility to think that thinking arose from mindless, purposeless processes that themselves came from nothing meaningful. Thinking is rooted in God, so disconnecting from Him will inevitably take us into darkness.
Let us learn, then, to gear up our minds to the purposes for which they were given. No greater thoughts can be entertained than those used for the glory of God. This includes using thoughts to the benefit of humanity, through love serving others and honoring all of God’s image-bearers. In other words: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”