Two Kingdoms

I find myself increasingly torn over the political issues that have plagued us lately.  Suddenly, it’s wrong to believe a certain way in our nation, which has freedom of religion written into its foundational documents.  In many cases, it’s considered “politically incorrect” to hold a Christian worldview.  The hypocrisy of the “PC” movement so painfully evident that I am simply baffled that more people don’t see it.  But I digress.  My purpose in writing is not political.  At least, not in the manner in which you are probably thinking.  Now if you consider the relationship between two kingdoms, or conflicting sets of ideologies, or citizens of one nation residing in another nation, then perhaps this is a political post after all.

To begin, I would like to take a moment to address the overwhelming plague of Biblical illiteracy in the Western Church.  Those of you who say something is “okay” when the Bible clearly says that it is not, shame on you.  Those of you who pick and choose what verses of the Bible you like and disregard the rest, shame on you.  Those of you who take passages of the Bible out of context to fit into your own preconceived idea of what you think God is or should be, shame on you.  God is who He reveals Himself to be.  You don’t need to interpret what He is from the Bible.  And let me tell you, the Bible probably doesn’t fit into your political agendas as neat as you would like to think it does.  The prime example, and probably the most abused subject in the Bible, is the issue of judgment.  Non-believers and watered down Christians scream and shout that it is wrong to judge and that our own Bible tells us not to.  Wrong!  It does, in fact, tell us to judge.  It merely instructs us on how we should judge.  For instance, the non-believer is condemned already (John 3:18).  This means, for these individuals, that no further judgment is necessary.  Their specific sins are of no matter to us, whose only mission at this point is to spread the Gospel.  Now regarding those who call themselves Christians that knowingly live in sin, this is another matter of judgment entirely.  And our judgement on them is tougher.  Iron sharpens iron.  All I am stressing here is know what it is that you say you believe.  Read your Bible.  Flee from false doctrines, especially those that are easily identified by a basic understanding of the Bible.  In this day in age, where so many resources are literally at our fingertips, you have no excuse.

With this in mind, how do we interact with a world that greets us with a scorn that increases day-by-day?  I believe that this, in part, is our own faults.  As a society that was based on Christian ideals, we have compromised over and over again.  Now many people are living however they like, contrary to how the Bible says we should live.  What ever shall we do?  Actually, I have a more appropriate question.  Why should we expect nonbelievers to live their lives according to the Bible?  Is it really that surprising and shocking that people who have shunned the Bible do not care what we have to say about how they should be living?  Think about this a moment.  Take as long as you need.  We attack their choices in life whether it be drug habits, sex life, alcohol abuse, use of language, etc.  Fill in the blank with whatever doesn’t agree with you.  But therein lies our mistakes.  This is where we as Christians falter and fail.  This is where we push them away.  Ladies and gentlemen, the problem does not lie with their life choices.  The problem lies with their world view which acts as the foundation in which they have built all of their ideals on.  You cannot merely trim the limbs of a tree and expect it to fall.  You cannot hurl rocks at the towers of a castle and expect to breach the walls.  You have to cut the tree at the trunk and sever it from its roots.  Crack the foundation of the castle and it will crumble.  You must understand that there are two kingdoms in coexistence.  The Christians are of one Kingdom, and the nonbelievers are of an entirely different kingdom.  How can we in our right minds expect members of one kingdom to follow the commandments and ideals of another opposing kingdom?  The simple answer is that we can’t.  As much as I love my nation, the United States of America, it is not of the Kingdom of God.  So why should I expect it to pass and enforce laws based solely on Biblical principals?  While I admit that I would love to see that, it is simply illogical to expect it.  Before you can expect others to follow Biblical principals, they must first leave their kingdom and become a citizens of God’s Kingdom.  Allegiance must change before a lifestyle will change.  And for those that say that their allegiance has changed yet their lifestyle has not, well, the proof is in the pudding as they say.

I’m sure that everyone has seen those “coexist” bumper stickers.  Then there are those that scream and shout for unity.  It all sounds like common sense on the surface.  It sounds like a great idea.  Why should we not pursue such an idea?  Lets delve deeper into the issue and find out.  While I wholeheartedly believe in the idea of coexistence, this idea does not seem to hold the same meaning for some.  The fact that we all exist and live amongst each other already shows that we coexist.  True, there are some that don’t want to coexist, but my point here is not to single those groups out.  We’ll leave that others to do, since there are already so many that point their fingers so well.  We can all live peacefully together, and yet not agree on all things.  We can all live amongst each other, and at the same time refuse to approve of each other’s life choices.  Because to believe that every singe person in our vastly growing population will agree on everything and accept each others life decisions is complete and utter foolishness.  It will never happen.  Where’s the math majors?  What are the odds of that happening?  But we can go about are lives and treat each other like human beings, practicing courtesy and common respect.  This idea I am all for.  Where do I sign up?  As for unity, where is there unity for the Christian?  It should be in the Body of Christ.  What does that mean?  It means that, while we live amongst the world, we will never have unity with it.  It is impossible to do so as a Christian.  Read Matthew Chapter 10.  Christ Himself said that he brings division.  Think about it.  We as believers are called out from the world.  We are called to be lamps in the darkness, a city on a hill, the salt of the Earth.  We are not a part of the darkness.  The separation of light and dark is one of the most clearly defined divisions.  Christians are called to walk with Christ.  We are called out from the nations to be a people set apart for Him, even to the point of pursuing holiness before happiness.  In fact, the word “holy” in Greek (hagios) literally means different and set apart?  This implies that for the Christian, there can be no unity with the world, as it means to those who are calling for it.  We may walk the streets of one kingdom, but we are citizens of a different Kingdom.  We are here temporarily.  While we’re here, we simply invite as many as we can to join us in our Kingdom.

While we’re in this world, this other kingdom, we have a mission.  The Great Commission.  While I’ll humbly admit, I don’t always work towards the Great Commission.  I do understand the importance of it.  I also understand what it is like to feel discouraged, when our society grows more and more hostile towards proselytizing.  Let’s take a look at the examples we have in the Bible.  Enoch preached for hundreds of years before being taken up.  Noah preached the whole time he built the ark prior to the flood.  Yet only his family believed.  God Himself, in the form of Jesus Christ, preached for several years prior to His crucifixion.  Yet people still did not believe.  So the Biblical patriarchs preached with little conversions.  And God Himself preached to the crowds, and was crucified by His own “priests.”  What does that say about us when we witness to others with little success?  So do not be dismayed.  First you must define success.  We are not able to convict the heart of another.  Many will not accept the Lord, and that is heart-breaking.  So we cannot define success by an action that is not within our ability.  So what is it?  The answer is spreading the Gospel.  That is what we are called to do.  So in doing so, we succeed in fulfilling the scope of our mission.  The Holy Spirit convicts the heart.  The Holy Spirit makes the “plant” grow.  We are to merely cast the seeds.  Humble yourselves, embrace your inadequacies, and then leave the Holy Spirit to do His work.

Keep these things in mind.  Do not be a part of this growing apostasy and Biblical illiteracy.  Know what you believe.  Read your Bible.  Do not expect someone to change their lifestyle without first addressing the foundation of their worldview.  Do not expect them to live by Biblical principals when they are nonbelievers.  Seek out proper coexistence, but never compromise where your faith is concerned.  Always remember that you are a people set apart from the world as followers of Christ.  Do not forsake Him, because He did not forsake you on the cross.

 

Ever Onward, Brothers and Sisters

-JCH

 

The Road To The Kingdom

Since I have not prepared anything for the site yet, I decided to share a piece that I wrote a while back and never really did anything with.  The Road To The Kingdom  was inspired by the work of John Bunyan and his work, Pilgrim’s Progress.  I liked the style he used in that story and endeavored to do something similar here.  It also reflects the internal struggle that I have faced, still face, and will likely face in the future.

The Road To The Kingdom

By the light of the Kingdom I go. By the Light of the Kingdom I see the road. I travel the road towards the village of Forgiveness, which I must pass through on the way to the Kingdom. Forgiveness is a pleasant village with warm meals and comfy beds, waiting to receive the weary traveler. But the way is perilous an fraught with danger. In the shadows lurk unspeakable things.

On this road, as I made my way to Forgiveness, I was delayed by servants of the dark one. I rounded a bend and just around the turn stood a thief blocking my way. His name was Bitterness, for he would steal my joy if I so allowed it. But the instead of yielding, I drew my sword; as I travel armed. A kingly blade as it was, I forced Bitterness off the road, and I attempted to move onward. But out of the shadows leapt a murderer. His name was Hatred, who kills one’s lobe and stills their heart as if it were stone. I turned about to parry his thrust. Engaged in battle as we were, Bitterness crept closer to attack while my back was turned. For a brief moment, I had disarmed Hatred and turned to Bitterness before he could harm me. Bitterness fled into the shadows. With my attention focused elsewhere, Hatred re-armed himself and attacked with renewed vigor. I was almost caught off guard. As I defended myself from Hatred, Bitterness again attacked form the shadows he had retreated to.

Back and forth we went, with no gained ground for either party. For how long we fought I don’t rightly know. Fearsome foes as they were, they might have subdued me in time. As I grew weary of the fight, and weakened to the edge of exhaustion, they only became stronger. I would not surrender to them. They would kill me before I lay down my arms and allow them to steal my joy or turn my heart to stone. I slowed, and almost failed to block a deadly strike. I had, for a brief moment, lowered my guard.

As my defense began to falter a great warrior riding a white steed came to my rescue. his armor seemed to reflect the sun in all directions. His sword was fast, and there was no fault to be found in His skill with the blade. I knew who this was. He was the patron champion of the village of Forgiveness, and the Lord of the Kingdom Himself. And there He was, fending off my assailants in my moment of need. With no hope of victory, my aggressors fled in to the darkness form which they came.

From there, my Lord and King personally escorted me towards my destination. His armor not ever losing its shine. Together we traveled on the road to the Kingdom, by the Light of the Kingdom, by the way of Forgiveness. In time, I found myself standing at the gate of mercy, which invited travelers into Forgiveness. I looked in, but thought back to the road. In a way, I was still fighting the two foes.

I could still hear the steal on steal, ringing in my ears. In hindsight, I saw many attacks aimed at my heart that should have ended me. By all rights, I should have died on that road. Then I recalled something peculiar. Many well-aimed strike by my foes were blocked, but not by my blade. I pondered this some more. As I relived the attack in my mind, I saw not two attacking one, but two defending against two. There was no mistaking the fourth party. My Lord and King had beneath me the entire time. But so immersed in the fight as I was, I had not noticed my Savior until He went on the offensive and drove the two away. How foolish of me to think I had withstood such an attack for these powerful battle-hardened enemies on my own.

I looked down at my attire; muddied and worn by the open road. A warm breeze blew through the streets of Forgiveness. The aromas of warm bread and other delectable meals filled my nostrils. “Come. Feast with Me in the village.” I looked up to my King to find Him smiling down at me. I smiled and looked through the gate of mercy again. I stepped through, at last in the safe walls of Forgiveness. Tonight I will rest well.

But I still remember. In my mind I still go back to that fight with Bitterness, who would steal my joy; and Hatred, who would kill my love and turn my heart to stone. I remember the cold look in their eyes. I remember the fierceness of their attacks. I remember the relentless efforts to subdue me. But what I remembered most, is my Lord and King who was there for me when my guard was down. And I will never forget how He traveled with me on the road to the Kingdom, by the Light of the Kingdom, by the way of Forgiveness.

I hope you enjoyed this piece.  Please check back again later for more posts.  God Bless.

-JCH