Jesus was consumed with the Kingdom. If you don’t believe me, read His words:
Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 4:11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables.”
Matthew 13:44-47 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. 47 Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.”
Luke 17:20-21 “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
Jesus was consumed with the Kingdom. Jesus mentions the Kingdom over a hundred times in the Gospels. He told parables about the Kingdom. He urged his listeners to prepare for the Kingdom’s arrival. Jesus knew about that arrival, because He came to establish His kingdom on earth. Jesus initiated a change of ownership. He usurped the authorities of the world and placed Himself upon His rightful throne.
As followers of Christ it seems that we should be concerned with the things that concerned Jesus. If He was consumed with the Kingdom, shouldn’t we be? So, I pose this question, are you consumed with God’s Kingdom? Does the entrance of the Kingdom into this world consume your thoughts? Does it keep you awake at night? Does it draw you from your bed in the morning?
Most of the time, we aren’t intent on the Kingdom. We have difficulty focusing on the Kingdom when the kingdom of this world is warring against us. That’s why the people in our churches rarely think about Christ’s Kingdom. They have their world and their life. As ministers we should engage our people in their world. However, we must remember that our engagement must point them toward the kingdom. We must lift their spirits from the mundane things of earth and point their hearts to Christ’s Kingdom.
As ministers, we must model Kingdom focus and avoid the temptation to build the wrong kingdom. We are often tempted to drop our gaze from the Kingdom of God and instead focus intently on the kingdom of self. Sometimes we fail at building Christ’s kingdom in this world because we are so intent on building our own kingdom in our church. The ruler of this world tricks us into thinking that our identity is bound up in the place that we serve. The deceiver lies to us, he tells us that we should busy ourselves with budgets and buildings. He seduces us to focus our attention on counting noses and stressing out over financial contributions. The adversary antagonizes us into believing that what we are doing at our church, with our people, in our building is the center of God’s activity. Rather than looking at what God wants to do to advance His Kingdom, we turn our attention to what God can do to advance us and our kingdoms. We have become so consumed with our little fiefdoms that we rarely think of what God is doing in His Kingdom!
Failure to focus on the Kingdom drives wedges between Christian leaders. Satan deceives us into thinking that we are in competition rather than community:
- Rather than investing in each other we hoard our resources.
- Rather than helping one another we keep a safe, comfortable distance.
- Rather than working together to accomplish more, we have to work furiously on our own and actually accomplish much less.
To defend our tiny territories we erect barriers of isolation. The enemy isolates us and picks us off. We must stop allowing the enemy to divide us because we are weaker when we are alone.
However, when we focus on the Kingdom and begin to share with one another and engage one another and communicate with one another, we become stronger.
When we rally together to advance the Kingdom, we see incredible victories. Families are defended. Strongholds are defeated. The enemy is depleted! Isn’t it amazing what God can do when we shift our focus from our kingdoms to His Kingdom? All of our worldly worries fade away when we lift our gaze to God’s kingdom. Maybe that’s what Jesus was getting at when he said:
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Kristopher Barnett is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in Biblical Languages (2001) and a Ph.D. in theology with a concentration in preaching (2008). His dissertation was A Historical/Critical Analysis of Dialogical Preaching. His undergrad work was completed at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas with a B.A. in Communication (1997).
Prior to joining the Christian studies faculty at Anderson University, Dr. Barnett served as pastor to three different churches; Forestburg Baptist Church (TX), Ridglea West Baptist Church (TX) and most recently, East Pickens Baptist Church (SC). Prior to pastoral ministry, he served as youth minister at two churches and did a youth internship at another.
Kris Barnett is the author of What Now?, a companion guide to the Bible. He is a member of the Evangelical Homiletic Society and has twice presented papers at the EHS conference (Wake Forest, NC and Birmingham, AL). Dr. Barnett enjoys filling the pulpit for local churches and serving in an interim role for churches seeking a pastor.
Dr. Barnett is married to Kelly, who is a graduate of ASU with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in psychology. They have four children, Kenzie, Karsen, Noah, and Kassie.