I’ve been doing a lot of thinking tonight. Eduardo, one of my friends, says that my mind is always going and never stops. I’m not sure if he means this in a good way or a bad way. Whatever the case may be, he is right.
I watched the movie tonight “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days”. This is one of my favorite movies, although it opened the door to some serious questions in my life. Besides the fact that it reflects the rest of Hollywood in the cleanliness of the entertainment, it begs the question, “What is it in life that we chase after?”
In the movie, Andi says that letting Ben go was one of the worst decisions of her life. Despite everything that she put him through, the movie still ended with Ben on the motorcycle chasing down the taxi that Andi was riding in. Every girl’s heart on the planet starts racing as we wonder if there is a guy out there that would chase us down like that. Following the style of every chick flick out there, one leaves the movie feeling hopeful that someday love might find them (or upset because love never has). Sorry if I just ruined the movie for you.
What is it in life that we chase after? Everyone longs to fall in love, to have a good job or a great reason not to work, and to be respected while doing what they love to do most. “Happiness” is the theme of our generation, and if it can be obtained, then what does it matter how we get it? Of all the things that we pursue, at best God just becomes one of them. We pursue Him and love and employment and respect. However, there is a problem to this theory and a reason why it never works. Chasing after God does not leave room for anything else. Period. It’s all or nothing.
There is a theme that has haunted me this entire past year and it’s the subject of the Kingdom of God. I have written about it at some great length, but it’s like every single day I am discovering more and more about what it is and what it means to be a part of it. Every day I realize how great the cost is of following Christ. The truth is, the more seriously you follow Christ and most specifically seek to be a part of His Kingdom, the more dangerous the waters grow. Honestly, there is a part of me that is very afraid to write about this tonight.
As I was reading Matthew tonight, I started writing down some of the things that the Kingdom of God is “more than”. Here are some examples:
The Kingdom of God is…
…more than physical or emotional healing.
…more than our excellence or success.
…more than our personal well-being.
…more than our righteousness.
…more important than our food and our clothes.
This last example is found in Matthew 6:25-34. I had never noticed this part nor read it in this way until tonight. Jesus says, “Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” Surface level, this does not make any sense, because one must eat if they want to have life. Or do they? What is the life that Jesus is referring to? Later He says, “But seek first HIS KINGDOM and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Therefore, what we can glean from this passage is that seeking the Kingdom of God is even more primary than finding our next meal. Wow. It must be pretty important, then.
Also, if the Kingdom of God is more important than physical healing, then why did Jesus spend so much time healing people? Reading Matthew 9:35-38 about Jesus seeing the crowds and having compassion on them, then saying to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few,” leads me to understand that it is our need that gives us a sensitivity and an openness to the Kingdom. The healing, however, is not evidence for or against the Kingdom, because the healing is not the issue. This is a tough message to grasp.
I went through this battle for the past several years, praying for healing and never receiving it. I finally started to realize the purpose of my journey was not in seeking healing, but in allowing my brokenness to be an avenue for the Kingdom of God to come in my life. What is the Kingdom of God, you ask? That is a great question, but the answer must come to you in a personal way between you and God. I was often frustrated because no one ever gave me a clear answer to what it was. It took me a long time to realize that Jesus didn’t clearly define it because it cannot be defined; it can only be something that we either become a part of or become an enemy to.
Jesus would have made a horrible salesperson. There were no package deals or labor day discounts. The Kingdom of God is what it is, and Jesus never shied away from describing the seriousness of the cost. In many cases, He talked people out of following Him because He recognized things in their life that were more important to them than the Kingdom. He did not want any half-hearted followers. There is no such thing. There are either people completely sold out for Him that are willing to give up even their daily bread or people that are a part of the “everyone else” category. It is that everyone else who are enemies to the cross of Christ. In light of this, I have to ask myself: If Jesus were standing before me tonight, would He invite me in or warn me of something that I love more than Him?
This is where things get dangerous. Martyrs do not meet their death all over the world because they live lives of love. Martyrs meet their death because they stand for a Kingdom that is higher than the kingdom of the world. The powers of this world are stronger than we realize or like to give credit to and they are much stronger than us. We must consider carefully the pledge that we are making when we choose to follow Christ. We are not just deciding to follow love; we are deciding to take a stand for the Kingdom of God and against the kingdom of this world. There will be a Judgment Day, and do not let anyone else convince you otherwise.
Lord, I pray for your protection. How many times have I prayed this prayer? Maybe I pray it in earnest each night before I go to bed because since I was a small child I knew what awaited me in the dark. I was afraid, and for very good reason. Evil is something that one should never mess with. However, when you choose to be a part of the Kingdom of God, the enemy will find you. You can be assured of that.
However, the most striking thing to me is throughout the whole Bible, God always sends this message to His people, “Do not be afraid.” He makes statements like, “Be strong and courageous.” He doesn’t suggest this; He commands it. How can one face death unafraid? Through the incredible power of the Holy Spirit.
What does it mean to be a part of the Kingdom of God? What is God’s mission that it would come at such a high cost? Paul talks about it at great length in many of his letters: it is the message of reconciliation. Once upon a time, God created man with a perfect relationship with Him. Imagine walking through your garden right next to God Almighty! He used to do that! However, when sin came into the world, things got a little messed up.
Life is full of choices. When we choose positively toward one thing, we are also choosing negatively toward something else. There is no middle ground. If I choose to follow Christ, then I choose to devote my everything to Him. There is no room for myself, or anything else. This affects everything that I do. I choose to see the world through His eyes. The things that bring Him joy also bring me joy, and the things that cause Him pain cause me pain as well. Believe me, God does not turn a blind eye to the suffering of His children. His justice roars like a lion, and we are called to this cause as well. We are commanded to rescue the captives and set free those who have been in bondage. Do you want a story that is better than any drama on the market? Because I can tell you that the Story of God would put any glorified hero to shame.
There is a reason why these stories cause our hearts to race. God created us to be courageous warriors for Him. This is not just for the brave; courage is a choice. We are a part of something much bigger than us. It is more than our personal well-being and calls for ultimate sacrifice. What a fantastic journey this could be. Why would we ever settle for anything less?
Choose this day whom you will serve, and make the choice with caution. Count the cost. However, if you choose to follow Christ, know that you are a part of something HUGE. Never believe the lies that you are alone and never give in to fear. God calls you to be courageous. You are His child. No evil can touch you without His permission. If following Christ is worth living AND dying for, then do not fear. Find out for yourself what the Kingdom of God is. I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed.