One of the things I love about C. S. Lewis’ Narnia books is the fact that, in the words of one of the Dwarves, “Narnia was never right except when a Son of Adam was King… It’s not Men’s country, but it’s a country for a man to be King of.” Lewis was on to something. Our world, like Narnia, is also not “Men’s country” – it is a part of God’s kingdom– yet it is a country created for humans to rule in. When God created the world, he did so as with kingly might. He spoke, and it was so. Genesis 1 reads like a King dictating his wishes, and his wishes necessarily being fulfilled. And when God the King creates humanity, he charged us to subdue the earth and rule over the creatures it contains. The great King commanded us to have dominion over his domain under him!
But what is a kingdom? Dallas Willard helpfully defines a kingdom as the range where your will is effective. That is, your sphere of authority; the place where what you want to happen does happen. As God intended, having a “kingdom” comes naturally to us. Some of the first words we learn as children are “mine” and “no”. Those, as John Ortberg comments, are kingdom words. From a very early age, we want to assert our authority over our circumstances. One of the reasons we can get so upset when someone bullies us, or asserts their authority over us to our detriment, or perhaps belittles our personhood and ideas, is that our kingdom is being challenged. Most all of us go through a stage of life where we rebel against our parents – trying to assert our kingdom, our wishes, over theirs.
And herein lies the problem. God made us to be kingdom people. He gave humanity the right to rule. But we were meant to rule under his leadership. Sin has ruined that. Sin sees us wanting “my will be done” rather that “God’s will be done” in this world. Unfortunately, my sinful will is opposed to God’s will. And often opposed to the person next to me. So much of the hurt and grief in our world comes from different people insisting that they should be allowed to be in charge. The crisis in Syria is between “insurgents” and the Syrian regime. Our political parties here in Australia bicker and fight because “our way is better than your stupid way.” And I get irritated if I don’t get my way. From the large scale to the individual, we are all to varying degrees “the man who would be the King.”
Into this world, God – the King of kings and Lord of lords – came as a servant. Jesus came preaching a gospel – good news. But what was his gospel? What was the good news that Jesus preached?
seek the kingdom of God first, and his righteousness