A couple of posts back, I expressed the idea that we Americans have difficulty understanding what it's like to live in a kingdom, since we have never experienced it. Therefore, it makes sense that we might struggle with how Jesus, who is our King and Savior expects us to live and honor Him. Hopefully, I can help you put some familiar Scriptures in their proper kingdom perspective, and see how Jesus describes kingdom living.
It's important that we understand that a King is also "Lord" of his kingdom, which has different connotations: Master, as in having dominion, or absolute control; and an identity as Ruler of his subjects. And here's why living under a King in a true kingdom is beneficial: as the supreme master and ruler over his subjects, a King protects the citizens of his kingdom, as well as owning all the resources, distributing them as he sees fit to those in need. There is then no competition for those resources, because everyone has what they need, when they need it. And since the King owns it all, there is no ownership by the citizens which can result in jealousy, deceit, or greed. The citizens are stewards of what they receive, by way of submitting their allegiance to the King.
This concept is expressed in Matthew 20:8-10, And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. Jesus is showing us the equality of living in His kingdom.
So then, from a kingdom standpoint, and for a successful kingdom life, the most important thing we can declare is that "Jesus Christ is Lord". Paul tells us this in Romans 10:9 ... Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. And by "saved", Paul means redeemed, bought back, salvaged, restored from the estrangement our ancestors Adam and Eve caused with their rebellion against God [the King] in the Garden. It's about restoring that right relationship with Him by acknowledging that Jesus is King and Lord of everything, including our lives and our destiny.
So, again, I come back to how do we rethink [or better yet, let's look at it from the Biblical perspective ... renew our mind] about what living under such a Lord looks like. Well, Jesus is Lord of the earth, right? Another way of saying that is, He is Lord of the land. Even our Western minds understand the concept of a landlord. It is a small, but accurate picture of Jesus as Lord. The landlord is the owner and authority of the land [or property] that you occupy, and we as tenants [or residents/citizens] are responsible to obey His instructions, commands, and laws.
Jesus cannot be Lord without obedience, so IF He is Lord, you cannot say "Lord...but" or "Lord...except" or "Lord....wait". IF He is Lord, the only thing you can say is, "Lord...yes"! Jesus tells us this is His expectation when He says, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me (Luke 9:25); and again, in Matthew 10:37-38, He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38) And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
It's pretty clear ... unless Jesus is the first priority of your life; unless He is above any other thing or person you treasure; and unless He is above every goal, ambition, or dream you have ever had, or will have ... then you cannot call yourself a disciple, nor is He Lord of your life. One of the most serious questions Jesus asks in the Bible is this: Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and not do the things I say? Can any of us honestly deny that we have not been guilty of this accusation at one time or another in our lives? There are no exceptions to His demand for loyalty and obedience. The bottom line is this: Either Jesus is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.
And with that understanding, comes a serious warning. In God's Kingdom, there can be only one King and Lord. We must understand that He does not share ownership of His Kingdom with anyone; not even us, His loyal citizens. He graciously shares all His riches, resources, and all good things of His Kingdom. That is a right we enjoy as a citizen. But as soon as we forget this principle, and begin thinking we own anything, then we make ourselves a lord. With that mindset, we take our focus and trust away from His provision and begin thinking we are responsible for our own needs. We then become proprietary of all we have; we fight to keep what we have; and we begin to live in fear of losing it. When we live in the true Kingdom of God on earth, there are no shortages and no worries or fears about our resources. When we relinquish our possession of what God owns, and acknowledge His Lordship, we find that we have full access to those resources; more even than we could dare to hope or ask for.
I know that on one hand, this sounds simplistic; and on the other, so foreign compared to how we've been taught to consider Jesus. I think our primary title for Jesus, as taught in the Western Church, is Savior. Yet, in the four Gospels, which are the teachings and revelations of Jesus in the Bible, He is only designated Savior 3 times, but Lord 190 times, and King 364 times. I know it is easy to dismiss this concept of Jesus as Lord/King and ourselves as citizens of His kingdom, but if you agree to accept the Bible as the true revelation of Christ, we cannot dispute this perception of Him and His domain, nor can we refute our rightful identity as sons and heirs of the King. I don't know about you, but that's an identity that is worth exploring, accepting, and inheriting.
1 Thessalonians 2:12 We comforted and encouraged you and challenged you to adopt a lifestyle worthy of God, who invites you into His kingdom and glory.