I am not trained in Theology. I am not an expert on this stuff. But I’ve had a serious relationship with God for a good 20 years. He is leading me and my family on this journey.
(Hopefully) This post will be a summary of what my thoughts are about the Kingdom – the main ideas that are driving this blog (and my life). Christians who come to this site and see the title up top may think, yeah, the Kingdom, I get it. But don’t let that phrase pass you by. I used to. God has been showing me that “The Kingdom” is much more than a Christian-y saying.
The Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven was one of Jesus’ main points. It was one of his top sermon topics. I’ve been a Christian my whole life. I grew up going to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. Yet this one fundamental, very important truth, was not pounded into me like now I wish it had been.
When we become Christians, everything changes. Well, it’s supposed to. When we become a Christian, the Bible says we are a new creation. The Bible says our citizenship is in Heaven. The Bible seems to be telling me that when I gave my life to Jesus and accepted his payment for my sin and all that, everything changed. Not changed from pink to red. Not changed from sad to happy. But changed from red to a circle. (huh?) That’s just it. I think I’ve missed it. We change completely. We’re not just a new version of our old self. We are in a new category. Our old self no longer exists and we have been created again from scratch into a completely new entity. We aren’t erased from the page and redrawn. Our paper is burned in the fire and we are created as a sculpture from a fresh block of marble. Our old identity is no more. We have a new identity.
I’ve been in ministry for over 5 years now. We spend a lot of time, we pastors, trying to figure out how to get people into the church. We seek God for wisdom and try to figure out how to change lives – how to reach people. Through these kinds of thought processes, and through my own personal growth, God has been showing me more and more every day that my life does not reflect this truth of being a new creation. In reality, it’s more like I kept my old life and tried to convert it to Christianity. This is a fundamental problem. I kept my life.
What I think has happened is that I don’t see myself too much differently than if I weren’t a Christian at all. The Bible says to not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. So it’s all about our mindset – our perspective – how we see ourselves. And until recently, I’ve allowed American culture to shape my perspective and identity. So I asked myself, what do I do to change that. For me, the answer has been The Kingdom.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the Kingdom. And I think God has guided me to create this blog to share what He’s showing me. Why? I’m not sure. You tell me. Joel Comiskey, in his brand new book, The Relational Disciple, writes:
“Often believers in the church see themselves as individuals first, Americans second, and Christians third”
This is helpful to explain what I’m talking about. Perhaps the thought process goes something like this: Hi, my name is Ben. I am an American who is a Christian. So we see ourselves as Christians within the frame-work of an individualistic American existence. Could it be that we have built our Christian faith on an individualistic American mindset? There are many who would agree – and have written books on the topic. Nonetheless, that’s what God is showing me. In Christ, there is no Jew, no Gentile, no male, no female, no American, no individual, no protestant, no Catholic. When we become Christians, labels like “American” no longer carry any significance. I’m starting to learn that there’s a lot of worldly kingdom stuff that holds no significance to someone who identifies himself as part of a God-Kingdom.
A few years ago a good friend of mine was catching me up on his life. He said that his family had achieved the American dream and he was now trying as fast as he could to get out of it. My thinking is along those same lines. A few months ago, I wrote in my journal, “The pursuit of the American dream leads away from Jesus”. Perhaps that’s where I have truly been heading. I’ve been tricked. I’ve been lied to. I have not embraced my new identity – my TRUE identity.
I am a Citizen of God’s Kingdom and wordly stuff holds no significance to my life (well, at least that’s what I hope some day will be my life-guiding principle – I’m not there yet!) I know many Christians have thought about this stuff. I have too, on and off, for a number of years. But how many of us actually do something about it and make the necessary changes in our lives. I feel like I’m now ready to start facing those changes. To abandon it all (little by little!) To, as the Bible puts it, die to myself.
Let me try to summarize my thoughts here.
God is leading me and my family to finally fully embrace our citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven and finally renounce our citizenship in a worldly (self-centered) kingdom. God is helping us (my family) to see ourselves primarily and exclusively as members of a spiritual Kingdom and community where Jesus is Lord (in charge). This might (and probably should) cause us to live in a way that is contrasting to our culture which, consequently, should not be a concern to us anyway.
So, if this makes any sense to you, then God’s grace is on you! I’m still sorting it out. This is mostly new to me. But I really think I’m on to something! I feel like I look up and God is looking at me with a proud look in His eyes that says “YES! You are getting it!”
I will close with some bullet point thoughts that I hope to explore more in depth in future posts.
- In the Kingdom, there is only significance in the spiritual, not the physical.
- In the Kingdom, relationships are the most significant part of life.
- In the Kingdom, I must see my wife and myself as one and my family as one. I am my family. My family is me. (Similarly, I am one with Jesus)
- In the Kingdom, my (or our, meaning, my family) resources belong to God and are given to us to use for His purposes
- Parenting is an act of stewardship and the family is the context in which my children will learn how to live and love in the Kingdom of Heaven
- I must see all people as spiritual beings (souls) who will live forever somewhere – and God is actively seeking to bring them into His Kingdom through people like me
- There is no “I” in the Kingdom (well, yeah, there is an ‘I’…you know what I mean!) – I’m not sure how to say it – there is no emphasis on individual identity. Emphasis is all given to the King and the collective group is His people.
- I have no right to my life – meaning, I must give up my dreams, my plans, everything. God is in charge and I live as though I really believe that!
- I must expect people to think I’m kind of radical – and I must receive my value and validation from God, not people.
- In the Kingdom, my primary concern is serving others. And (as Charles Stanley said) God takes full responsibility for a life that is fully devoted to Him. In other words, I don’t need to worry about my (or my family’s) needs being met – God will take care of that. We just need to seek His Kingdom.
So, that’s what www.benchilcote.net is all about. Yes, there will be videos, songs, creative projects. But the real deal is my family’s adventure in being fully devoted to Jesus.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or, better yet, join us!