Have you ever watched The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? Do you remember the scene when the four children stumble across a closet door to discover another world full of wonder — the land of Narnia? Nothing in England compares to the beauty and adventure they find in this magical Kingdom.
This focus on kingdoms seems to be a trend: all kinds of myths, fairy tales, fantasy shows or historical dramas seem to fill our movie theaters and television schedules.
Why are such stories so popular? What is the appeal of kings and queens and kingdoms in our modern, democratic world?
Is it possible such stories appeal to us because we all yearn for our own kingdom? Do we dream of becoming the heroes of our own stories, winning treasure, defeating foes, finding great love and purpose?
Are we all trying to become kings and queens in some way or another?
I think so. It seems to me that some of us attempt to build our kingdom on the rock of academic success, believing that if we succeed in this endeavor, it will give us treasure, a prominent identity or the approval of others. It’s as if we are involved in a battle strategy. We consider sacrificing time, energy, or friends to gain what we ultimately seek. We fortify our gains by adding new credentials to our resume, like landing a great internship, or graduating with honours. Every day is another day of kingdom-building — acing this assignment, putting in the extra hours — all to reach the ultimate dream: financial wealth, a relationship which “completes us”, or maybe the approval of others, success…
My kingdom-building was centered around athletic performance. While in college in Alberta, I played basketball in a top level Canadian Collegiate League (CCAA). Up to that point basketball was such a key part of my life that I sacrificed regularly to become the best player I could be. So when I was bumped off the starting line-up my sophomore year, I was devastated. I didn’t realize how much I was building my kingdom on athletic success. I was basing my identity on being good at it, and when this treasure of mine was threatened, I became depressed, angry and bitter. My kingdom was crumbling. Later on, I realized that I had built my kingdom on something too small, too fragile, too easily lost.
But what if my problem was that I wasn’t supposed to be building my own kingdom at all?
What if true happiness, true purpose, true success, came from both belonging to and helping build someone else’s kingdom instead?
I had known for a while that that was what Jesus invites us to do: seek first His Father’s kingdom, not ours (Matt. 6:33). And so, after seeing my kingdom crumble, I began to look more closely at what living for His kingdom could mean.
Jesus speaks of a Kingdom that will never perish and that surpasses any other kingdom in authority, scope, beauty and satisfaction: the Kingdom of Heaven.
This Kingdom brings life. Jesus came into a world filled with injustice, sin, disease and death. He lived among us as one of us, subject to all the sufferings we are. He was sent by His Father to begin the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and call us to leave His enemy’s kingdom and enter His. Long ago, our first ancestors had rejected that Kingdom by rebelling against God (Gen. 3). When they chose to disobey Him and listen to the enemy instead, they left God’s perfect Kingdom and became the subjects of a fallen world. Their tragic choice resulted in the spread of death, suffering and evil.
But when Jesus came, he proclaimed that God was offering us the possibility of leaving the power of the enemy to return to God’s Reign, a Kingdom that will restore this world to perfection (Mark 1:15). During His time on earth, Jesus demonstrated his power to heal, to forgive, and to even bring the dead back to life (Mark 1-5). He told us that by dying on the cross he was offering us a way back to God (Mark 10:45). He was accepting the punishment all our rebellion and evil merited so that His Father could welcome us once again into His Kingdom, purified and made holy by His Son. Through His own death and resurrection, Jesus has proven that He has the power to give this eternal life to all who chose to be reconciled to God through Him as King.
His Kingdom is imperishable. All the kingdoms we seek to build through academic success, money, relationships or reputation can easily be taken away. Our kingdoms all perish at death if not before. But God’s Kingdom is an eternal, indestructible kingdom. What an amazing privilege God offers us by inviting us to be a part of it forever!
All the while I was busy building a perishable kingdom in college, Jesus was offering me citizenship in His imperishable and perfect Kingdom. However, it took seeing my kingdom crumble to begin to discover more that there is no greater purpose, no greater privilege than abandoning my own kingdom to join Jesus in the building of His Kingdom here on earth.
Have you chosen to cease being the king of your own domain to become a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven and follow Jesus as King?
If so, how have you seen Him transform your life? If not, what is standing in your way?
(Edited by Anne-Marie Montgomery)