When we imagine the kingdom of God, what do we see? The streets lined with gold? The majesty of God’s throne? His justice, His love, His mercy? In Luke 17:20-21, Jesus says,
“… The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
The kingdom of God within us – how does this happen and what does it look like?
Not by observation, but by experience.
We can appreciate the beauty of nature, yet fail to acknowledge the signature of the Creator God who made it all. We can be loved by another person, but fail to know the true love of God. We can attend a church, but fail to attend to the Bride of Christ. We can speak words of worship, but have dull hearts, blind to the majesty of God. In John 3:3, Jesus says,
“… Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Speaking to Nicodemus , Jesus explains that there must be a transformation in us to have revelation of His kingdom. We need to be born again, washed clean from our sin, filled with the Holy Spirit, restored through Christ into relationship with God. Then, we will understand. Then, we will see the kingdom of God. We will see it through the power of the Spirit transforming us to see as Christ, the Son and heir of God’s kingdom, sees. We will see it through grace, by which we are saved and brought into this kingdom. We will see it in love, knowing that God so loved us that He not only gave His son to save us, but He has called us co-heirs and given us an inheritance with Christ in this kingdom.
Speaking to the Pharisees in Luke 17:20-21, Jesus explains the sign of the kingdom. It is not in following one or another, nor is it in blinded customs or offerings. The kingdom of heaven is not through this kind of observation, but it is within us. It is obedience motivated by love for God. It is the revelation of God’s beauty in all things that comes through a heart that knows God. It is an understanding that His word and His ways are always good so that we choose to live in service to Him.
The Kingdom of God, is not one that can be merely observed, but it must be experienced and it must transform our lives.
Pictures of the Kingdom
Matthew 13 provides many pictures of what the kingdom of heaven looks like. Here are just a few notes I put together to help me visualise the kingdom of God.
|Picture of the Kingdom||Significance|
|Matthew 13:11||“…Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”||
We are given the means to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (through the Holy Spirit in us).
“… The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.” (Parable about how the enemy then sows tares among the good seed and the man tells his servants to let the both grow up together then, when harvest comes, the tares will be gathered and burnt while the wheat will be brought into his barn)
|At the end of the age, those who are sons of the enemy, and who practice lawlessness, will be cast into the fire, but the righteous (children of God), will shine in the kingdom of God, the Father.|
“…The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
Jesus also talks about the mustard seed in Matthew 17:20 – that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. Here in Matthew 13, the kingdom of God, sowed as a small mustard seed in our heart, grows in strength and can give shade (or peace) to others.
“…The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened”
|The kingdom of God works to transform the world.|
|Matthew 13:44||“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
God gave everything, His only begotten Son, because He treasured us so much. In turn, when we experience the kingdom of grace He has shown us, we see that true treasure is found in Christ, and we give up all we have to follow Him.
|Matthew 13:45-46||“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
This reminds me of the parable of the lost sheep; how God places such value on people, even the lost, that He would leave everything and give everything to rescue one beloved person out of the bondage of sin.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.”
|The kingdom of God is for everyone – every people and every nation – they will all hear of it. However, only the good will remain in the kingdom because the bad will be thrown out.|
“…Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”
|There are always new revelation and old testimonies to discover and re-discover when we search the kingdom of God that is in us.|
It is incredible to think that we can carry the majesty of God’s kingdom within our human bodies. Yet we do, and we have the ability to display His kingdom and His glory wherever we go. [1 Corinthians 6:20] says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” We need to experience the kingdom of God in us. When we do, its glory will shine through us to the nations.
Luke 17:20-21 Digital Artwork: The Kingdom Within Us
June Christian Today Article: Saving Life