Yes…I know God does not dwell in temples made with hands, BUT…
Jesus standing before Pilate despite all the attempts to threaten and humiliate him, calmly stated, “My kingdom is not of this world.” And yet He previously prayed “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom is not a place, it is not a structure it is a relationship, a system and a way of living. It as Jesus Himself states, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God…and the Spirit as Jesus explains, “is like “the wind [it] blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The kingdom is immaterial yet its effect, its impact is observable, powerful, timeless, dynamic and produces results far exceeding any attempts to materially define it. It works as Jesus explains, like leaven and grows like mustard seeds.
The kingdom is defined by a relationship to its King, the commands of the King, the examples left by His Son, and the obedience of its citizens. It is experienced in the world by the behaviors its followers which serve to illuminate and demonstrate the glory and goodness of the King. The will of the King is administered not in word only but in power by the changed lives, changed beliefs, changed behaviors, changed work and changed way of perceiving the world and themselves in it.
That this is true is evidenced by such teaching and examples as, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.” [Philippians 2:13]. Likewise as Jesus listened to the Roman centurion who describes his faith in Jesus which reflected his deep understanding that God’s power [His will] was being done through Jesus, said, “I am a man under authority, and have men under me. I say to one go and he goes, to another come and he comes and to another do this and he does it.” At this faith [understanding] Jesus “marveled”. The centurion got it… God accomplishes His will through His people.
There is a kingdom… there are citizens in that kingdom, these citizens are identifiable not just by a belief system but by observable changes and characteristic in the way they live.
There is also work in the kingdom…kingdom work. The inspired phrase after all is, “Thy will be done…” not thy will be considered, thought about or imagined. As the King’s Son said, “Why to you call me Lord, Lord and do not the things that I command?”
What then is “kingdom work”? We should be careful, very careful not only how we answer this question but how we ask the question, our motivation for the inquiry. Remember the “certain lawyer” in Luke 10 who “stood up and tested Him [Jesus] saying “Teacher what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” According to Jesus himself, “You have answered rightly; and you will live.” But, the story goes on, the lawyer wanting to justify himself said, “And who is my neighbor?” How and why might you ask, “What is kingdom work?” To look for all the possibilities to do it or to justify yourself on why you don’t, can’t or shouldn’t.
Another concern about how kingdom work is defined is to constrain it to activities that are easy, convenient and fit nicely within our current situational comfort zones. The give us the assurances that within these confines we feel justified, good about ourselves and quite content “thank you” in our level of service. We get to manage, at our convenience, on our schedule what we do for the Master.
There is however a “beam” that we all have in our eye. This tidy paradigm doesn’t apply, nor do we expect it to apply in nearly any other aspect of our lives. “Stuff happens”, opportunities arise, the boss demands, the kids have issues, and we know we simply have to rise to and meet the challenges life throws at us or opportunities life gives us…to survive and thrive. When it comes to “things we have to do”, things we “want to do”, risks we want to take and progress we “want to make” we have no major problems putting our heads down, rolling up our sleeves getting to work for ourselves for our boss or for our cause.
We absolutely must pull that beam out and see if we apply this same approach, to any degree to doing God’s work. Remember those three guys that got a share of the master’s “talents”? Why did they get the talents? The master had already seen their abilities to generate a return, each to their own capabilities. And so, according to that each received an appropriate level of “trust” to do for the master what they had done for themselves. Of course, you know the story. That’s not the question or the point.
The point is the one talent steward did absolutely NOTHING for the master. He did not use a single principle, a single source of motivation, a single bit of energy or ambition to earn a return for his master. He simply froze, he wanted to justify himself and to satisfy his master by simply returning what he was given.
The Master, it is clear, expects a return. He has seen what you have and what you can do. Accordingly, He has entrusted you with something. What then are you doing to “invest in Kingdom work”?