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Friday, September 18, 2009

His Kingdom, With Or Without Weeds

If we are currently living within the Kingdom of God, and the rule of the Creator-Sustainer is a present reality, why did Christ teach us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come…?” (Matt. 6:10)

Describing the Kingdom of God is like the blind men describing an elephant. One man touches an ear and declares, “the elephant is like a fan!” Another touches the tail and shouts, “the elephant is like a rope!” It depends on which aspect of the elephant one touches.

When it comes to the Kingdom of God, there is both a present expression of the Kingdom and a coming expression. They are not exactly the same expressions. To put it in the context of Matthew 13, the coming Kingdom is "the Kingdom without weeds." The Kingdom where “all things that offend and those who practice lawlessness” have been removed (Matt. 13:41). Until then, God's present Kingdom contains weeds.

Even so, it is still His Kingdom, with or without weeds. In its current state of disrepair, the whole “field” of planet Earth, and all that it contains, including every airplane flying overhead, is the Creator-Sustainer’s own possession (Psalm 24:1).

Does this mean Jesus owns everything in the Boeing Company, and the Boeing manufacturing plant just miles from my home lies within the realm of Christ’s rule, under the jurisdiction of His present Kingdom? I say, “yes.” Jesus is Lord of all (Acts 10:36), whether the Boeing Company recognizes Him as such or not!

Why does understanding this matter? The ramifications for our everyday work are enormous. It means there is no type of earthly work that can be done outside the present Kingdom of God, because the jurisdiction of Christ’s rule extends over every human activity, and there is no earthly occupation that takes place outside the borders of the King's domain.

It gets very practical. If I’m sweeping floors, I’m sweeping part of His Kingdom. If I am building airplanes, I am molding and shaping His Kingdom’s “stuff” into machines that fly through His Kingdom’s sky. This gives building airplanes a sublime dimension, and it gives all work an awesome significance: It is His world we are working in, and His stuff we are working with.

But if I limit my understanding of the Kingdom of God to only its coming pristine expression, and I fail to appreciate its present (albeit contaminated) expression, I'll tend to focus on the age to come, and miss the significance of the here-and-now, including the full significance of everyday work in God's present Kingdom. Including building airplanes.

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  1. Chris: This reminds me of Kuyper's comment that there isn't one square inch in the entire universe about which Jesus doesn't say, "That is mine".
    Al Greene

  2. I think there are layerings of kingdom(s).

    Upper is the kingdom of heaven - the (solely God's) over all kingdom. Next lower, in our context (there may be others) (and still solely God's), is the over the (one wherein we are) universe. Next would be the managerial possition that we were/are given via Adam and Eve [kicked out of the garden, but not stripped of possition.]

    Another next would be the kingdom of the usurper, Satan and his minion, formed when Satan lusted for kindom power whilst in God's court. This kingdom is counter to and subject to (at minimum) the first 2 layers.

    "Thy kingdom come" I think has more to do with our management possition. At the (Adamic, etc) fall, we gave kingship to the usurping kingdom. Thus the question is: Under which kingship/kingdom do we place our management possition - God's (the true - "Thy") or the usurped? [God gave us the choice, and He let's both kingdoms act.] The usurping kingdom seems to be normal, thus the need to talk to God (pray) and purposefully give Him kingship.

    Every square inch is His / God's. But, in the "Thy Kingdom come", He has us purposefully choose to place our management within His kingdom / under His kingship...........


  3. In the part of the kingdom over which I have been given responsibility (family, church, business, civil government, etc.) how do I deal with the weeds? Is that my job? I know that my kingdom is to be picture of the future perfect one, however, cloudy, but my family (business, church, etc.) is not alwasy even a close facsimile. That seems to me to be huge issue.

  4. Good, question, Robert.

    It seems to me that in light of Matthew 13, it’s God’s job to deal with the weeds. He is the only one that can effectively do so. In that parable, the Lord seems to be saying, “don’t try to pull the weeds out before I send my angels to cut them down, bundle them up and toss them into the fire.”

    But I don’t think this means we are to be passive or fatalistic when it comes to the matter of weeds in whatever realm of the Kingdom we have been given responsibility, and I think this is at the heart of your question. I just suspect Jesus is saying that in our own strength we are no match for the task. We don’t “clean up our own act,” and we don’t “plow the weeds under” through our own human efforts. “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.”

    To the degree there are "weed-free" areas of the Kingdom, it is going to be His doing, and in His good time. In the meantime, I think we learn to live with “the tension of imperfection,” to one degree or another. I think this is the one of the realities of a fallen world.

    I do know this: my responsibility is to “abide in the vine,” (John 15), and to keep my focus on Him. He will deal with the weeds in His own time, and in His own way.

    Am I addressing your question, Robert, or answering a question you didn’t ask?

    Do any others have thoughts to share on this matter?

  5. That is exactly what I am asking. But my tendency is to be concerned with the weeds. Should I be fully satisfied with the weeds (which I must be if it His job to deal with them) and go about my business of the kingdom?

  6. Somehow, in the end, even the weeds will be used for His purpose.

  7. God uses all weeds. The most famous example is the Persian king Cyrus whom God used to give the hebrews the temple back. God explicitly says he is using Cyrus though Cyrus "has not known me".
    Isa 45:1 Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut...
    Isa 45:5 "I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have NOT KNOWN Me;

    Cyrus was a Zorastrian and as such did not worship the God of Israel but God stirred his heart to do His Will.