What is it that has some folks continually making bad decisions and finding themselves in the dump of life? Do they enjoy their isolation? Do they revel in their private hell? Don’t they see the trail of tears in their rearview mirror?
I’m no psychiatrist, but I have some experience with this sort of thing and I believe that most people don’t want to live this way. So why do they persist in their destructive decisions and fleshly behavior?
Now before you suppose that I’m about to tell you that the Christian life is all care bears and sunshine, I want to make it clear that I’m well aware of the challenges and, as Mike Yaconelli put it, the “messy spirituality” of us all.
None of us have it all together. I got it. We all get it. We have all made bad decisions at one point or another. And sometimes life just happens.
No, my heart is heavy for those that continually ignore sound advice and biblical wisdom—allowing their emotions to steer their ship into a whirlpool of more pain and death. They invite darkness upon themselves.
They see the signs, they hear the warnings, but their foot remains on the pedal as they speed past one stop sign after another. They say, “I’m gonna do what I want.” They avoid total surrender to Christ.
These folks will usually find someone to comfort them and affirm their destructive way. The world is filled with plenty of people wandering around in the dark claiming to know a thing or two.
We have all been there. You can surround yourself with ungodly counsel and feel good about it, especially when they tell you what you want to hear.
But listen to the biblical sage in Proverbs 2:1-8:
My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. (NLT)
Jesus told a series of parables about the “kingdom of heaven” in Matthew 13. In the Gospel of Matthew the “kingdom of heaven” is synonymous with what the rest of the New Testament refers to as the “kingdom of God.” The kingdom is at the forefront of Jesus’ message.
Jesus says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matt 6:33). Let there be no mistake, Jesus was all about kingdom.
So what is the kingdom? Entire books have been written on the kingdom. I’ll just sum it up this way:
The kingdom is God’s reign and rule in the cosmos. It’s God’s divine program!
We don’t really use “kingdom” language anymore. A “kingdom” is literally a king’s domain. Jesus preached that God had arrived to establish his reign and rule on the earth—to claim it as his own! That’s why Jesus prayed that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. He was praying for the very reign and rule of God upon the earth (Matt 6:10).
The kingdom—his reign and rule—always looks like Jesus.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that Jesus would call his followers to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else” because it is where real rewarding life happens. When we are participating with Christ in allowing God’s reign and rule to saturate our lives, and in the lives of those around us, we experience what it means to truly live.
When we live for kingdom, our lives are being built upon the solid rock of Christ.
In order to experience this “abundant” life of kingdom, we must be willing to deny ourselves and sell all that we have to take possession of it (Jn 10:10; Matt 16:24). It’s the only way.
Listen to this short parable of Jesus.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.” Matthew 13:44
What do those frustrated folks I mentioned above share in common? Simple. For whatever reason, they have not found Christ and his kingdom a treasure worth reorienting their entire lives around. Some “thing” or some “body” excites them much more than Christ.
It’s no secret that their persistence in making poor decisions is evidence that Christ is not central and supreme. There is one throne in their life… and they are sitting on it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46
If you are not a follower of Christ, please know you can trust that the yoke of Jesus is easy and his burden is light (Matt 11:28-30). The yoke of the world is hard and the burden of it will eventually crush you. Are you willing to sell all that you have to purchase that field… to acquire the fine pearl? Or would you rather take your chances with the world?
If you are a follower of Christ, I want to remind you that your salvation began with a passionate love of Jesus and his kingdom. Have you forgotten your first love? What are you loving more than Christ?
Dear friend, God loves you and wants to supply you with true nourishment for the soul. He alone will satisfy. How long will you turn to temporal things for your identity, security, and self-gratification?
What has become more important to you than the kingdom of God? Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:62). What has you looking back? Can’t you see you’re plowing crooked rows?
Listen to wisdom. Respond to the voice of the Spirit of God. Put your hand to the plow and don’t look back. What’s past is past. Make your next decision for Christ and the furtherance of his kingdom.
You won’t be at peace until you do.
D.D. Flowers, 2011.