The kingdom of God is not a simple concept, one that you can never truly explain in a simple blog post or newsletter article. It's a phenomenon, an invisible realm that shapes and affects our world in ways we can't pretend to comprehend. And yet it's here, and it's alive. It's ruled by the Father of Lights, the God who is always loving us, who is our king.
These past couple months many parts of Alberta has been going through a drought, one severe enough that the tree nursery I work for has been freaking out, classifying their field as being in critical condition as we watched trees die from the lack of water. Sweltering heat has surrounded the city of Edmonton, creating an interesting conundrum of no rain, but a lot of evaporation. The ground water level dipped so low the government was forced to classify it as being 'poor', meaning there was not really any water in the soil for plants of any kind to drink. The North Saskatchewan river, which flows through the heart of Edmonton, had lost so much water it's banks were much lower than they should have been for this time of year. And yet the rain wouldn't come.
But then it all changed. The owner of the tree nursery I work for, knowing I was a Christian came and asked me to pray about the situation. And so I started to do so, watering plants while praying for rain, constantly hearing this voice, which I believe to have been God's, saying 'It will come in a month. The rain will come in a month. Not now, in a month'. But I wouldn't accept it. So on a saturday afternoon, while watering some of our trees, I called for rain.
And by Sunday evening, it rained.
Not enough however, just enough to make everything muddy. So Monday I continued to pray for rain. And Tuesday, I continued to pray for rain. And Wednesday evening, it began to rain - dumping over 2 inches of rain down upon the city. And the funny thing is, now, when I'm writing this post almost two weeks later, we've had nearly four inches of rain fall down on our tree nursery. Was it because I prayed, or was it going to rain anyways? I don't know. All I know is that I called for rain, calling on Jesus' promise to make it rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, and within 24 hours it rained. Coincidence? It's certainly possible. Although I don't think God often works through coincidence. Answered prayer? More than likely.
You see God answers prayers. God works in miraculous ways. God's kingdom is here, it is present, it is powerful, and as the King, He can move in power to affect change in our world. We tend to imagine that the kingdom of God is some distant place, up in the sky; that when Jesus spoke those words He was simply referring to heaven - a distant place that we will go to when we die.
But the reality is that the kingdom of God is ever present among us; and that the King is constantly moving among us. To quote Charlie Chaplin's movie 'The Great Dictator':
"In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: "the Kingdom of God is within man" - not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure." Charlie Chaplin
Regardless of the source, the truth behind this statement is astounding. The kingdom of God IS within man - not in the sense that we are the kingdom, but that we belong TO the kingdom! But not only do we belong to the kingdom - we play a key role in the Kingdom. We have been adopted by the king (Eph. 1:5), and are His chosen people, His royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9); we are a part of the kingdom. And thus, we have a role to play.
But what is that role? I'd like to think it's simple. Our role is to work alongside the Holy Spirit in extending the kingdom with power. Bill Johnson describes the Holy Spirit's role as being;
"The Holy spirit enforces the lordship of Jesus, marking His territory with liberty. The kings domain becomes evident through His work" // Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades earth
Through the work of the Spirit, the domain of the King becomes evident. And so;
"Those who learn how to work with the Holy Spirit actually cause the reality of His world, to collide with the powers of darkness that have influence over a person or situation" // Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth
Prayer is powerful. Why? Because it positions our hearts to seek and see what God seeks and sees, aligning our will with His own will; and it also can unleash the power of the Spirit to release light into this world, pushing away the darkness. In 1 Corinthians Paul mentions the gifts of the spirit, gifts which not-so-coincidentally cause impossible things to happen. And I'd like to suggest that this power, these gifts; these things that we receive through the spirit - I'd like to suggest that maybe, just maybe, as part of our role as priests and heirs of the kingdom, we should be using the heavenly resources at our command to cast aside the works of the enemy - whether it be disease, death, or drought - calling forth the reality of God's light.
Rather than standing on the sidelines ignorantly pretending that God isn't active in this world, lets join the battle; working alongside God to see His will and kingdom revealed on this earth. You see we have three choices - pretend He isn't active and moving in a tangible way; pretend He can't use us or won't use us or we aren't good enough to be used by Him to change the world in a tangible way; or to accept the reality of our calling, partnering with God to see the world changed for the better.
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20
"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." // Jesus, John 14:12
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