The Kingdom (the family business) is the whole enterprise of God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the angels and all true believers (God’s sons and daughters), living on earth and presently living with God. It’s everything that the family of God has done – is doing – and will be doing for all eternity to accomplish the ultimate purposes of God.
When I use the term family business, I don’t want in any way to diminish the majesty and the glory of God, or the seriousness which surrounds the unimaginable power by which he simultaneously manages both the whole universe, as well as what is about to happen to you and the flowers in your garden in the next few minutes. But, think of it this way.
Imagine a business that could literally save the life of every person on earth – they could truly live forever. Not only that, but each of those people whose lives have been saved, would have hope, a loving community around them and a purpose for living – they’d be part of a movement that can actually change life on this planet. And, they’re so grateful; they can’t stop telling others about this company and its founders. In fact, telling that story and helping others discover this new life becomes the driving passion of their lives. That’s the kind of family business I’m talking about!
When I think of a healthy family business, each member of the family is important. If someone doesn’t do payroll, no one gets paid. If someone else doesn’t sell, there’s no reason to manufacture anything. If other family members don’t take care for their departments, or do what they’re expected to do, and cooperate together, the whole business suffers. Regardless of their giftedness, each uses what they have to passionately advance the cause of this business.
It all belongs to God!
However, the Kingdom of Heaven, or Kingdom of God is not dependent on humans. God isn’t wringing his hands worried over our inability, or unwillingness to do what he wants done. He’s ultimately sovereign over everything and everyone – he owns it all!
Through his angels and his divine will he is working behind the scenes, in our world and even in the lives of those who hate him to accomplish his purposes. The only real question is, will you and I faithfully serve the sub-kingdom God has assigned to us?
Here’s why I’m not wild about the term kingdom. Most of us have no idea what’s like to live in a kingdom or under a king. So, while the word and concept is biblically accurate, it’s not terribly helpful in today’s world. But, I realize that I’m not going to get all of Christendom to stop using the word kingdom, for the family business, so I’ll drop it for now. But, promise to think about it.
Our sub-kingdoms are all the people and resources over which we have authority or with whom we have influence.
My sub-kingdom consists of my wife, (I’m also in her sub-kingdom) our six children, our grandchildren, the women who work with me, all my friends and family, everyone with whom I have even some contact, all my spiritual gifts, my natural gifts, all my money, every day of my life, even the influence I might have with you, through The 10 Second Rule book. I could go on.
So, what does your sub-kingdom look like?
Perhaps you’re a high school student; your sub-kingdom is obviously much smaller. Unless you’re the captain of some team there’s probably no one under your authority, but many you can influence. Your sub-kingdom might consist of your family, friends, teachers, the kids in your school, your car, your cell phone, spiritual gifts, natural abilities, a small amount of money – you get it. Anything you have can be used for the glory of God!
But, back to my sub-kingdom and how does this authority, or influence thing actually work in real life? My mission from God, the very reason I exist, is to care for the people under my authority or influence as if Jesus were actually here doing it in my place! I’m his surrogate. I’m to manage my life the way Jesus would if he actually lived in my house, spoke to my wife, drove my car, interacted with strangers, hung out with my friends and wrote my checks. For better or worse, I represent the family to my world and I’m charged by Jesus himself to be the loyal, loving, servant/manager of everyone and everything Jesus has entrusted to my care. Yes, Jesus is coming to usher in the future, perfect kingdom someday and followers of Jesus ought to yearn for it. But it’s also here – now – today. And, every true believer has been entrusted with just a sliver of it.
With some people we will have only a momentary and fleeting influence. A hitch hiker – a homeless person – a waitress. Nevertheless, Jesus wants us to care for them, even for a few seconds with a smile, an encouraging word – a generous tip – whatever we’re reasonably certain Jesus is asking us to do. That’s the way it is with our sub-kingdoms – it’s that fluid. It literally changes every day. And when we live with that intentionality we bring God glory, the ultimate goal of our lives!
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5:16
Once you’ve finished reading this blog, this week please also read the following parables of Jesus and you’ll see this sub-kingdom/mission-from-God thread throughout all of them:
Parable of the Sower Luke 8:5-15
Parable of the Talents Matthew 25:14-30
Sheep and the Goats Matthew 25:31-46
You’re way more than just a Christian – you’re a stakeholder in the most powerful family in heaven and on earth. It’s for this we’ve been saved!
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
When our various sub-kingdoms intersect and overlap, we have the church – the community of believers on earth. The influence and power of the church is more than simply the sum of its parts. When our sub-kingdoms mesh well and we live and work in unity, it’s a testimony to the world of the truth of the gospel and a foretaste of the perfect kingdom to come.
Therefore, we worship God together and care for one another, but there’s also a broken world outside our church walls, desperately in need of the kingdom, whether they know it, or not. With a third of the world drinking filthy water how can we not work with others to address it? How can we as the Church crawl into clean, soft beds knowing only a few miles away a woman and her children are trying to keep warm living in their car? When we become aware of individuals and whole people groups, who have never been introduced to Jesus, it becomes our privilege as the Church – the people of God to do that. When we do it says something powerful to the world.
“May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:23b
The church is that dynamic – or can be! Unfortunately for many of us who’ve grown up in the church this part of the family business often appears ancient and out of touch. The church feels more like the old General Motors – year after year, just cranking out the same reliable, but unexciting models and shocked to find showrooms half empty, except for diehards, loyal to the brand. You and I can change that!
And on that Day…
I’ve had this thought. I’m standing in line on judgment day – staring at my feet – waiting my turn – ready to give my report – getting all my excuses in order, saving my best arguments for my close. I think I’m in pretty good shape. And I wrote The 10 Second Rule book. So, I got that going for me.
I already know I’m in because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. So, the pressure’s off. Finally, I’m in front of Jesus.
As I’m about to swing into my litany of good deeds, I make the mistake of looking directly into his eyes – those kind eyes. The eyes that pierced Peter’s just before he fled the courtyard – and I’m absolutely speechless. Suddenly all I was so proud of seems so pathetically shallow compared to how I might have lived – the lives I might have more profoundly impacted – if only…. I’m tempted to compare myself to others, but then it dawns on me that Jesus isn’t grading on the curve in this judgment of works. This is just between him and me.
What did I, Clare De Graaf, do with the life he gave me? What others did with their lives is between Jesus and them. I’m ashamed – and sad. That’s where this scene in my mind often ends.
Of course, Jesus will wipe away every tear – I just don’t want him to have to. Do you?
To whom much is given, much is expected.
Next week my blog will be a series of questions and answers about our sub-kingdoms and how they work in real life. What questions do you have that you’d like me to address?