Welcome to My Little Kingdom
king·dom: a realm or sphere in which one thing is dominant.
The bottom line: Each of our lives is shaped by the war between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of self.
[W]e are all kingdom builders. The issue is whose kingdom are we building? . . . Ever since that fateful day, human life and history has been shaped by kingdoms in conflict. The little kingdom wars with the big kingdom, the kingdom of this world wars with the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of man wars with the kingdom of God. This war goes on behind every human intention, decision, thought, word, desire, and deed. Everything everyone ever does is done in pursuit of the success of one of these kingdoms. This war is unceasing and inescapable because it is fought on the turf of each of our hearts. Created for “big kingdom” living, sin twists our allegiance and causes us to be all too dedicated to the little kingdoms of our own making. We get blinded to the transcendent glories of the big kingdom and actually believe that the little shadow glories of our own little kingdom are as good as it gets.
The problem is that most of us don’t think in kingdom terms. You know, you just rather thoughtlessly get up in the morning and go to work, or get the kids ready for school, or take the dog for a walk, or read the morning paper. You and I don’t live with a ready sense of our intentions or allegiances. And this is precisely how we get ourselves into trouble. Without knowing it, we can reduce the promises of Scripture down to a hope that God’s grace will ensure the success of our little kingdoms. Instead, the promises of the Bible are an invitation to active participation in a bigger and better kingdom, the kingdom of God. And where do you pursue the interests of the big kingdom? In exactly the same place where you are tempted to pursue the little kingdom, right where you live and work each day.
Treasures and Lilies
What does little kingdom living look like? Jesus brilliantly answers this question in Matthew 6:19-34. . . Little kingdom living is shaped by two points of focus. First, it is shaped by the pursuit of earth-bound treasures (vv. 19—24). The concept of treasure is very helpful here. A treasure is a valuable possession of any kind. As human beings we are all treasure hunters. The reason Christ’s teaching here has such a ring of truth to it is because each of us in some way is a person in pursuit of some kind of treasure. . . We all work for treasure; the only way we differ is in the kind of treasure that we seek.
So Why Is the Little Kingdom So Attractive?
The little kingdom is attractive for one primary reason: because self is always at the center. There is a way in which this magnetizes every sinner. Sin causes each of us to be scarily self-focused. The DNA of sin is selfishness. Sin is about wanting my way, in my own way, and in my time. . . Somewhere deep within our sinful hearts, this is what we all secretly want—our own way. And this is the thing that the Redeemer has come to rescue us from. He came to pry us from the constricted confines of our diminutive little kingdoms and, by his grace, to welcome us to the expansive glories of a better kingdom. Yet, even in the face of his grace, I will try to employ his wisdom principles and gracious promises to make my little kingdom work. You can’t squeeze the large-vision lifestyle of the kingdom of God into the small-vision confines of the kingdom of self. It will simply never fit.
Remembering the Father and Living Large
The new way is driven by a focus on the transcendent glories of God’s big kingdom purposes. Those purposes span all of history and spread to all of creation. They can never be squeezed into the constricted quarters of my little kingdom. The new way is also driven by a daily and heartfelt admission of my weakness, along with a joyful rest in the faithful provision of my Father. Here is what we have been welcomed to: You and I can get up in the morning with a calm joy in the loving provision of our heavenly Father, while being enthralled by the fact that we have been included in the transcendent joys of his kingdom. There are glories to be enjoyed that you will never experience in the confines of your kingdom of one. You were created and called to live large. Why would you retreat into the narrow confines of your own little kingdom?
Come Join Us in our Quest for More
Adapted from A Quest For More. Excerpt may not be reproduced without the express written permission of New Growth Press. To purchase this and other resources, please visit www.newgrowthpress.com.
© 2008 by Paul David Tripp. Used by permission of New Growth Press. All rights reserved.