November 2023 | Persecution: The First Martyr—Stephen

Living The Kingdom Life and enjoying it

Living The Kingdom Life and enjoying it

Dr. George Cherian

The Kingdom of God announced as good news by the Lord Jesus surprised the religious world of the first century. A nation waiting for a messiah to deliver them from Roman bondage expected a Kingdom that was earthly and visible. 

In reality, the Kingdom of God is wherever God's rule is established.  The Kingdom of God, invisible to the natural eyes, dwells in the hearts and lives of many who have surrendered to God's sovereign rule.  It dwells in communities submitted to the God's truths and principles. 

One day, this spiritual reality will give way to visible reality when Christ will reign.  As the prophet Isaiah has said, "The government shall be upon His shoulder" (Isaiah 9:6). Even now, we can live in the invisible Kingdom of God and enjoy it.  This is the Christian life.

Paul writes in Romans 14:17, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."  

While the world lives with an attitude of "eat, drink, and be merry" (Luke 12:19), God's people are to live righteously, peacefully and with overflowing joy."  Although we wait for the sudden revelation of the Kingdom of God at the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, all those who have surrendered to the rule of Christ in their lives are to  demonstrate their Kingdom life by their righteous living and possession of peace and joy in the Holy spirit.

While the inner experience is hidden, the fruits of the reality of the experience are always visible and are social in its nature. Righteous living and the spirit of peace and reconciliation will truly facilitate the redemptive work of God in this world.

Attitudes of Joy, contentment and meekness help to propagate the gospel of the Kingdom in the world. Matthew 20 records the parable of the servants, hired to work in the master's vineyard. While this parable is a direct rebuke to the religious Jewish leaders, it certainly has an edifying message to those of us in the Kingdom of God.

Some men were hired in the morning hours, some at the third, sixth and the ninth hour. Surprisingly the master calls some idlers at the eleventh hour, which leaves them with only an hour to work.  But strangely, the master rewards all with one denarius starting with those who worked only one hour.  This created a commotion among the servants, especially with those who had worked the whole day. There was displeasure and grumbling among the servants in the vineyard. Those who came first expected more and voiced their demand to the master. 

This dissatisfied and grumbling attitude led to the master's rebuke and final revelation of the sin of jealousy in the hearts of the grumblers.  The absence of divine joy among these men proved that they had forgotten the values and principles of the Kingdom of God. We who are living in the reality of God's Kingdom ought to remember the truths Jesus teaches in this parable so as to live out the authentic and winsome (Christian) kingdom lifestyle

Remember the Marvelous Grace in the Call. 

The master takes the initiative in the call. He starts the journey and meets all the laborers. (Matt 20:1-2) Jesus said, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit." If God did not make this move, none of us would have entered the Kingdom of God. We are to be born again (John 3:3), we must receive the Kingdom like a little child (Mark 10:15), and we are to be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3) to experience the kingdom life. The grace of God takes the initiative.

Grace gave the privilege of the servanthood to all these men. They were idlers, waiting by the roadside till they got this great call from the master. Idlers became servants of God. Paul says that he was a blasphemer and persecutor of the church, but God called him to be an apostle who proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The splendor of grace is still enhanced when we note that the master also gave opportunity to those who were late. He opened the door of grace to even those at the eleventh hour who had only a short time to work.

Remember that the Master is Sovereign and Good.

When the early workers complained about the reward, the master reminds them that he was just in giving them what is due to them. He agreed with them for a denarius as day's wage. (Matt 20:2), and he was just and good in giving them what he promised. When the early workers saw those who worked for only one hour also received a denarius, they were annoyed and they complained. 

The master's answer teaches us the principle of joy and contentment in situations where we feel that we are not rewarded enough, and it seems very unfair. The master said, "Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go.  If I wish to give to the last man the same as to you, is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own money?" 

What Jesus meant was that, the master is good and just to give what he promised and that the master has the sovereign right to do what he pleased with his possessions. 

Remember that Blessings Received by others will not Lessen our Share.

The master's reward and gifts to others will never rob our share of reward. In the mad rush to get rare commodities, people who stand in line get nervous that the supply will become exhausted before their turn comes. One should never forget that God's supply is never exhausted, and that God always gives to each one the measure of grace as He wills. (Ephesians 4:7)

Remember to Enjoy the Blessings of others.

Those who started to serve early could not enjoy seeing the others rewarded equally. It is not that we do not receive but that others receive more.  This is what troubles us. Jesus called this having an evil eye, or a spirit of jealousy. Jesus saw corruption in the hearts and minds of the religious people of His day, and also in His own followers. It is not natural to human nature to rejoice when others are preferred, blessed and wonderfully used. 

If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we not only find it difficult to rejoice but are sad about it. The message of the parable must make us sensitive to the corruption of our hearts and lead us to true repentance. "Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) continues to be the message of Jesus.  It is true that we come to know Christ as Saviour when we repent of our past sins, but continuous conversion from self is necessary to enjoy the abundant life in the Kingdom of God.

"It was easy," Dr. F.B. Meyer said, "to pray for the success of Campbell Morgan when he was in America, but when he came back to England and took a church near to mine, it was somewhat different. The old Adam in me was inclined to jealousy, but I got my heel upon his head, and whether I felt right toward my friend or not, I determined to act right. "My church gave a reception for him, and I acknowledged if it was not necessary for me to preach Sunday evenings, I would dearly love to go and hear him myself. Well, that made me feel right toward him. Just see how the dear Lord helped me out of my difficulty. There was Charles Spurgeon preaching wonderfully on the other side of me. He and Mr. Morgan were so popular and drew such crowds that our church caught the overflow, and we had all we could accommodate."

Isn't it God's Kingdom when we are blessed from the overflow of others and also at the same time our blessings overflow into others as well?

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