What Does God say about citizenship in the Kingdom?
The Bible is a beautiful tapestry, with many threads woven through it, one of those threads being God's decision to live with His family.
God wants to live with people who want to live with Him, those who cheerfully volunteer to be part of His Kingdom. These people want to live in a world where everyone is kind and gentle, loving and supportive, patient and peaceful; they accept Jesus as their Lord, not just their savior, and willingly live the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." So, He is giving us a choice, Rom 10:9, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Choosing to love Him allows us to joyfully build our lives on the firm foundation of His love, 1 Jn 4:8, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." and Jn 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." If we refuse to follow His Will in this life, He will not subject us to an eternity of it in His Kingdom.
Matt 12:50, "For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." and Jn 7:17, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." This is how I found Jesus. I began by reading the Bible, and it led to obeying Him, not out of duty or force, but rather because I wanted to see if it really would be the best way to live my life. Little changes at first; however, each step was rewarded with an improvement in that part of my life. I came to faith only after I learned that His Will obeyed proves He is God. Nothing short of seeing the resurrected Jesus could have driven me to faith, like experiencing His Word in action in my own life.
My testimony is the life Jesus calls us to provides the most joyous and peaceful life possible, infinitely better than the alternative. Jesus tells us, all of the law is summarized in just one commandment, Gal 5:14, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." When we choose to disobey Jesus, by not loving our neighbor, there are consequences. We could mistakenly think God is punishing us for our disobedience. However, it is more like the highway workman with a warning sign telling us the bridge is out. Disobeying God is the same as ignoring the man with the sign; there will be unpleasant outcomes. The man on the road did not destroy the bridge; that is just the reality he is warning us about. God created everything to work together for good, Rom 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." We, humans, have distorted His truth and disobeyed His commandments, so bridges have been destroyed. Like the man on the road, God already knows the disasters awaiting us further down the road. We could ignore gravity, but to what end? We could steal from others or commit adultery, but people will be hurt. God knows how this world works because He created it. He knows how the complicated interactions between humans can affect the wonderful life He has planned for us, Jer 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." So, we can choose to defy God and go our own way, but God is warning us that way leads to death, Prov 14:12, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
So, how do citizens of the Kingdom willingly choose to live?
As citizens, we work to build the Kingdom. When something needs doing, citizens volunteer, cheerfully donate, and things get done, Eph 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Instead of destroying things, Citizens actively choose to create. God wants us to use the good He teaches to overcome evil, Rom 12:21, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Citizens care for one another, we share, so no one has real needs, Eccl 4:9-10, "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up." We share out of love, not guilt or pride, and we never force others to share, 2 Cor 9:7, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." We share because it is the right thing to do, Lk 6:31, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." So, our lives demonstrate we are fit to live in the Kingdom of God, Lk 9:62, "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." If we keep returning to our old lives, our fields will not be fruitful, and the Kingdom will suffer.
A right relationship with God leads to a right relationship with others; it is part of the sanctification process awaiting any of us who choose to open the door, Rev 3:20-21, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." In His Kingdom we can live joyfully without fear and with complete faith and trust, Heb 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Obedience teaches us how much God truly loves us, for we then witness the best way to live in this life and for all eternity. We need to be humble enough to love Him as our Lord. This is important because everyone in heaven will be joyfully obeying, and that is why it will be heaven. Any other way would turn heaven into another dysfunctional world, like the one we live in. The process begins with our obedience and matures when we are joyfully obeying out of love. We are then abiding in Him, Jn 15:4, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." Selfish people want a savior, but they do not want a Lord.
When someone needs help, rather than selfishly living for this life only, citizens show up and do what is needed, Matt 6:19, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:" and Matt 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." and Matt 15:1, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”
Citizens are peaceful and never try to restrict another person's freedom, as long as they do not harm anyone. Our fellowship rejects force and violence, so we live within our community, without separating ourselves, Jn 15:19, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." Even though fellowship in this world is messy, we do it, so others can see His light and find the path to Him.
As citizens, we pay attention to what we do, always trying to move closer to God in word and deed, Prov 4:26-27, "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil." we continually waste less time on unproductive thoughts and actions, Phil 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." we are not perfect, so we confess our sins, Jam 5:16, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." We humbly forgive others, Eph 4:32, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Citizens live righteously, in the space between creation and His Second Coming, somewhere between human flourishing and the cross of self-denial. In this life, picking up our cross is the best way to live, Lk 9:22-23, "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." and Matt 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Everything a citizen does, they do to the glory of God, Col 3:17, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." and 1 Cor 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." We do not seek our own glory, for nothing in this world is worth trading for our eternal life, Matt 16:26, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Lk 17:20-21, "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." and Matt 7:21, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." In this life, citizenship means we do the Will of the Father, as a choice, out of love.
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