We are so often lured to believe power is necessary to affect change. Truthfully, power can bring about change in the physical world, but rarely positive, impactful, lasting changes. One powerful kingdom gets replaced by the next; the leadership landscape changes but not the lives of the people.
From the time of the exile to Babylon until Jesus coming, the people of Israel languished under one occupation and then another, experiencing very brief moments of freedom. When Jesus arrived on the scene as a baby, the Roman empire had only been around for 27 years; but by the time he was beginning ministry in his 30s, their domination was in full swing. The Jews were ready for a redeemer, someone to free them from Roman rule and reestablish Israel as a kingdom, one to influence the whole world – just as they understood the prophesies to read.
But Jesus didn’t come to establish a physical kingdom on earth. He came to establish the kingdom of God, a spiritual kingdom, one that fills the whole earth and supersedes all other kingdoms. God’s kingdom binds people together regardless of their physical status or ethnicity, slave or free, rich or poor, man or woman, child or adult, barbarian or educated… the list goes on. When Jesus said that the kingdom of God was near, and was in fact at hand, this is the kingdom he meant.
We are living in the kingdom of God right now.
God’s spiritual kingdom operates opposite to earthly kingdoms in nearly every aspect. In God’s kingdom the physically poor are spiritually rich; those who appear to be first and the greatest physically are last and the least spiritually. The servant is the leader. In God’s kingdom, the ruler doesn’t lord himself over his subjects but gives his life for them.
A spiritual kingdom requires spiritual power. Physical might means nothing. We are tempted to believe that our ingenuity and ability will get us through, but that could not be farther from the truth. Though it’s a great movie story line – how the hopelessly overmatched underdog finds a miraculous way to win in the conflict – it is not spiritually real. Yes, David defeated Goliath, but who really won the battle.? Here are David’s exact words:
“This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands…” (1 Samuel 17:46)
Our might cannot save us. Our might cannot protect us. But we are not helpless; we have the Spirit of power living in and through us, and the living Word of God as our sword. He has already conquered death and we are in him.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zachariah 4:6)
The transition we need to make is to let go of what we think we can do and to embrace what we know God can do.
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