You and I were born for battle. The responsibility of believers and the condition of mankind make this so:
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power…. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10-12)
In talking about this battle and what God is doing as part of his great plan of redemption, much of this may sound foreign to you. For many of the Lord’s eagles have been influenced by the mood of the world, and have assumed the character of doves.
But God is looking for a new generation of eagles who will be singlemindedly committed to him, to his mission, and to his glory. We’re here to give our hearts to him and to make sure we’re involved in what he is doing.
And our mission, should we choose to accept it is to become part of a worldwide task force to bring into being that which does not fully exist—the kingdom of God.
Throughout history we’ve seen tremendous growth in the kingdom. That which is near to our hearts has been on the hearts of the saints down through the ages, and their lips have prayed what ours pray: Thy kingdom come.
Until Christ returns we are to be faithful in bringing in this kingdom. He has planted us all over as good seed, in various spheres of influence—to live for him and to be light and salt in the un-Christian environment around us.
Regarding this kingdom, the apostle Peter wrote these words: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9). No matter where you live, you are chosen to be unique.
All cultures in the world are marred by the sinfulness of man. The world and its leaders and its systems are corrupt Therefore we are to bring into being a new culture—the kingdom culture—and to establish it within every existing culture of the world. This is the great commission.
The largest and most important invasion the world has ever known is now taking place. We are invading every culture of the world with the kingdom culture. And the Lord is looking for people who are willing to be a part of this invasion. They are not only to know this kingdom in their mind, but to stow it in their hearts, to show it in their lives, and to sow it in the world around them.
The battle is for the souls of men and for their eternal destiny, and we are on the offensive. We are not on the defensive, or in detente, or deserting.
In reading Joshua 5 we find the people of Israel waiting near Jericho, the first city they would attack in invading the land God had given them and for which they had been waiting for so many years. Joshua, strong and courageous, was leading the people. He must have been thinking about this promised land when he looked up and saw a man with his sword drawn.
Joshua said to him, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
The man standing there, unbeknown to Joshua, was the captain of the Lord’s host. His reply to Joshua was, in essence, “I have not come to take sides. I have come to take over.”
The Lord of hosts is still the same. He wants to command us and to be the King of our hearts. He is leading us into the cultures of the world. We have come to take over.
Are you thinking “peace at any price”—or victory at any cost? For there really is no peace apart from total victory, and victory is the changed hearts of men and women around the world. Only Christ brings peace.
The kingdom culture is always relevant. It dwarfs all other allegiances, whether political, ideological, religious, national, or cultural. These are the distinctions that divide people, but the kingdom culture supersedes them all and unites people, because we are one in Christ. It speaks to every aspect of life and society.
We have not given this kingdom culture the same prominence in our thoughts and lives that it has in the Scriptures. We have only to look at the words of Christ to see how important it is. It was the first topic Jesus raised when he entered his public ministry. His first words were not, “I’m okay, you’re okay,” but, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
The kingdom was also the last topic Jesus spoke about. After his resurrection and before his ascension, when he had only a few weeks to spend with his disciples before going to heaven, we read this about him in Acts 1:3—”He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”
So what is the kingdom? It is the kingship of God over man. Rebellion is raging in the hearts of mankind around the world, and God wants them to surrender to the kingship of Christ over their lives. The problem of the world is not ignorance, but rebellion against the King.
Yet he will accomplish his plan. His rule is over everything that exists. “The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men” (Daniel 4:17).
The kingdom is also the redemptive rule of God over man. It’s a new culture full of old people with new hearts.
My favorite passage on the kingdom culture is in Leviticus, the book that includes more direct quotations of God than any other book in the Bible. Think about the kingdom culture as you read these opening verses from chapter 18:
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God.'”
We are not to do what is done in America, or somewhere else. All cultures are marred by the sinfulness of man. Instead, we are to keep God’s commands. He is the Lord our God.
God’s goal for us is eminently clear—to preserve a people distinctly different in their lifestyle and in their commitment to him. We are to bring in an entirely new culture of godliness and holiness. Look at 2 Corinthians 6:17-18—
“Therefore come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.
I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
That’s the idea.
We’ve come to take over, and to change the hearts of men. God is giving us the opportunity to influence the people around us. Whether we like it or not, either we set the tone, or they set it for us.
Today, Christianity is what its leaders were in the recent past. And, for better or worse, Christianity will become tomorrow what we are today. We have the ball now. What are we going to do with it? You and I are strangers in a foreign territory, a world ruled by Satan. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan are opposing forces, and we must choose the kingdom in which we’ll live and serve. Those who make the decision to serve God’s kingdom must lay upon God’s altar all that the world has to offer. No servant can serve two masters.
We are married to Christ, and to love the world is spiritual adultery. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Is your friendship with the world marring your walk with God and your witness for him? Do you find yourself in love with the world and the things that are in it?
I encourage single people who are college graduates or in the military to plan on giving about half of their paycheck to the Lord’s work. For where their treasure is, there will their heart be also. I’ve watched something happen again and again with single people: They go from stereos to Corvettes to Honolulu to you name it. The world gets its grip around them, and they become diverted and unproductive.
The world is out to get you. It comes upon you before you know it.
I would encourage you to make a list of all your possessions which you count as truly valuable. Then think about them as you read Philippians 3:7-11—
Everything that was gain for me I have considered loss for Christ’s sake. And, what is more, I regard everything as loss in comparison with the supreme value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have incurred the loss of all things and consider them rubbish, in order to gain Christ and to be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, based on the Law, but through faith in Christ the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, in order that I might arrive at the resurrection from the dead. (New Berkeley Version)
This passage can help you bring your possessions into proper perspective.
I have a friend who used to tell me, “Terry, you’re so heavenly minded you’re no earthly good.” But I’ve discovered that this is a parable of Satan. For in Colossians 3, God says just the opposite: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” That doesn’t mean I should be irresponsible. I am to be a wise planner, and to provide for those whom I have responsibility for. But it does mean all that it says.
For those who are clinging to possessions, I have a sure cure: Give them away. Years ago a friend of mine inherited a large sum of money, and kept calling me for advice on what to do with it. The third time he called, one of the banks in his city had closed down, and he was a little shaky. I began to get the picture. He was preoccupied with the money.
The next time he called I had a little different counsel for him. “One way you can get your concern off all this money that we keep talking about is to give half of it away,” I said. “I’ve got a list of seven names of missionaries here, and I’d like to encourage you to give to them. They are really in need, really hurting.” I’ve never heard from him since.
There’s nothing wrong with things and money. They are amoral. But the question is how “clutchy” you are. Are you holding on to them? What are you putting your security in and fixing your hope on?
The mortality rate in this country is one hundred percent. Everybody dies. There are no exceptions. And you can’t hoard your possessions and take them with you, but you can send them on ahead.
The kingdom of God is big enough and important enough that you can give your life to it Everything you do for the kingdom of God will last forever. Whatever you invest in the word of God and in the hearts and souls of people is an eternal investment.
Everybody’s bidding for your time. Everybody wants your energy. But as someone has said, you have time in this life for only one passion.
So pick your passion. What’s yours? What are you giving your life to?