“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ” (Philippians 1:27, NLT).
My paternal grandfather was born in England and migrated to the United States with his family as a baby. Later in life he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
I have a copy of his citizenship papers. His certificate of naturalization says that he intends to reside permanently in the United States and is entitled to be admitted to citizenship.
“Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:15-17, HCSB).
One of the recurring themes in my book, The Kingdom Order: Living for the Future in the Present, is that we should live our life in the present as though it is preparation for eternity. We must allow our hope for an eternal future to impact the way we live in our present reality.
“So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:16-17, ESV).
According to the Apostle Paul living in God’s Kingdom is not about doing good. It’s not about formulating a set of rules and regulations for good behavior. It’s not about finding happiness or success.
“The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are his pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead he found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead he heard cries of violence” (Isaiah 5:7, NLT).
In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus told a parable about a landowner who planted a vineyard (Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19). In the minds of its hearers this parable was a familiar Old Testament theme that alluded to Isaiah’s song of the vineyard in Isaiah 5 (see also Psalms 80:6-16).
“When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God” (Luke 22:14-16, NLT).
The Passover meal had as its ultimate goal the messianic banquet (see Revelation 19:7).
Jesus’ death as the true Passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7) inaugurated the Kingdom of God that will be completed at Jesus’ second coming!
“If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it…For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 17:33; 18:14, NLT).
In Luke 17 Jesus told His disciples about His second coming to earth and how those that try to hold on to their life in this world will lose it in the end.
In Luke 18 Jesus told the story of a Pharisee who prayed he was thankful he was not sinful like other men, while a certain tax collector prayed and called on God to have mercy on him as a sinner. Jesus exposes the prayer of the Pharisee as self-exalting.
“I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.”
Christ’s coming inaugurated His Kingdom on Earth.
Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual nation that is active in this world now to prepare its citizens for an eternal, heavenly Kingdom that is to come.
The gospel of Jesus is a message of an everlasting Kingdom that extends its reign from the creation of the universe to this present age and into the ages to come.