My Kingdom is not of this world

As the referendum looms this week, how do you feel? Are you fearful that catastrophe could be right around the corner? Or are you quietly confident that it will all, sort of, work out alright? 

Whatever your view is of Britain’s relationship with the EU, it is important this week to remember who has the ultimate authority over the situation and to understand who is in control.

 

During his lifetime, Jesus was clearly subject to the state. God used the rulers and authorities to control crucial events in his lifetime which served to fulfil his purposes on earth. Even his birth place was determined by a decision of Caesar’s, whilst his crucifixion was ordered by a Roman Governor. When Jesus was tried, he revealed an insight to Pilate which helps us to grasp the authority that God has over all situations; this includes decisions made by the collective people, and by kingdom rulers.

 

John 18v35-36

Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 

 

Jesus allowed Pilate and the Jews to deliver him to be crucified whilst confidently expressing that he was in control. By stating that “my kingdom is not of this world” he gives us confidence to know that even those of the highest powers on earth cannot contend with the plans of our creator God. The history-changing decision of Pontius Pilate served to advance the kingdom of heaven when from an earthly perspective it looked like it was to end. Therefore, whatever situation we face this week come Friday morning, we can be confident that God has not been absent.

 

Swiss Theologian, Karl Barth, famously said to a friend the day before he passed away: “Just don’t be so down in the mouth, now! Not ever! For things are ruled, not just in Moscow or in Washington or in Peking, but things are ruled – even here on earth—entirely from above, from heaven above.”

Advertisements

Being a Mary in the city of success

I love London. I love its diversity, its culture, art, history, greenery and even some of its concrete. I love the pace at which one lives, the constant opportunity to do and see new things and the hope and expectation captured within its borders.

 

Living in the city of potential, there’s a very apparent pressure to succeed and progress. Having resided in the rather leafy west of the city for almost 6 years now, I’m not ignorant to the burden of continual movement and upward motion in which my life should be heading. It’s a burden that frustrates me, because, it’s not one I necessarily agree with. It has somehow entered into my fibres and become part of my expectation that I will swim with the upward tide of London’s successful salmon, and reach the prized pool of the elite.

 

However, biblically, this isn’t my expectation at all and I’m a contradiction to my very self. My belief that my life should be a continual success isn’t unbiblical, but perhaps self-involved and indulgent. To live to aspire to gain the world, only serves to diminish my standing with the Holy Lord, is that not true? Jesus said that whoever loves his life will lose it, but whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

 

Now I’m not suggesting that success in business is a sin, far from it. More so that success as an ultimate goal is a sin. My ultimate goal is to live in communion with Jesus, to serve him as my Lord, and go wherever he goes. Still, I am ambitious in this life. The tension is great.

 

With a desire to know Jesus first, it saddens me therefore that I often relate more to Martha than Mary in Luke chapter 10. I have been known to say, in a flurry of activity, “Lord do you not care?” (Luke 10v40) although of late my disposition has been changing. God is refining me and helping me to sit at his feet. He is shaking off the burden of busy-ness, and building in me a thirst to know his kingdom come in my life. Coming to Jesus before anything else, prioritising him over all other things, is what he calls ‘the good portion’ in Luke 10v42. If I believe Jesus to be holy and perfect, a God who never lies, then I am foolish not to accept the good portion and learn from these examples. Over time sat at his feet, my heart has been changed. Slowly but surely I’m learning not to run blindly with the crowds towards an unknown goal in an unstable world. I’m learning that, in fact, God’s kingdom is not of this world and his plans will not fail. If I can sit and listen to him instead of worrying about my upward trajectory, perhaps I’ll find myself blissfully swimming in a fresh stream of success, one which credit crashes, referendums, house prices or budget cuts will never be able to take away.