“To them He presented himself alive after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)
The ability to identify and solve problems is vitally important in every field of human endeavor. We sometimes call it “critical thinking”, and no step is more critical than the first step: fully identifying the problem.
Failure to identify a problem accurately and fully will inevitably lead to a wrong or inadequate solution.
As an example, you have abdominal pain. The proper definition of the problem is, “Something is wrong within my body and causing pain”. You seek out the source of the “dis-ease”, find the cancer and initiate plans to cure it.
However, if you simply define the problem as “I have pain”, your solution can be pain medication. The problem you defined – the pain – will go away, but the cancer will kill you.
My friends, even the “life or death” issue of cancer is less important than the “everlasting life” issue of our relationship with God. Yet tragically, the Church has often failed in this most critical area to fully identify the real problems. As a result, we live inadequate lives, witness to an inadequate solution, and have too little influence on the world.
To correctly understand our problems, we must think from a Kingdom of God perspective. This is, after all, the gospel Jesus proclaimed. (Mark 1:14-15; Acts 1:3)
Simply put, the Kingdom of God is the wise, benevolent rule of a loving God over those who trust, obey, and depend upon Him. Both heaven and earth were created as expressions of this Kingdom. God chose to dwell in heaven amidst angels under His authority and chose to have mankind dwell on earth under His authority. It was all “very good”. (Genesis 1:31)
But then the problem arose – a decision by some to come out from under the Lord’s authority and rule on their own. This problem is best understood in Kingdom terms as “rebellion”.
Rebellion first arose in heaven as Satan led many angels to defy God. (Revelation 12) Rebellion then arose on earth as mankind was tempted by that prince of rebels to “be like God” and decide on their own what would be good and evil. (Genesis 3)
This root problem of rebellion immediately led to other problems. Mankind’s rebellion would not really mean “self-rule” but, instead, coming under the rule of the prince of rebels. (1 John 5:19) Our “flesh”, having tasted independence from God, would seek to remain independent – hence, the biblical concept of the “old self”. (Romans 6:6) And independence from God’s rule separated us from the benefits of His rule: wisdom, protection, authority, and provision, including the provision of life itself. The consequences of sin include death. (Romans 6:23)
Rebellion in heaven was a problem soon resolved. The rebellious angels were thrown out and are destined for everlasting punishment at the time all rebellion will be judged. (Luke 10:18; Matthew 25:41)
God’s love for mankind, however, prevents Him from treating our rebellion in the same way. For us, His solution must restore the Kingdom on earth while allowing the preservation of our lives, which means reconciling us back to Him in the trusting, obedient and dependent relationship we were created to have. To do this, God’s solution had to address both the rebellion and the offshoot problems created from it. Jesus Christ is that solution!
Jesus revealed the incredible love of God, but those who preach “all we need is love” fail to recognize the importance of God’s other scriptural commandments. Rebellion continues.
Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross and rose in victory over death. But those who simply preach our need to accept God’s forgiveness and receive our “ticket to heaven” fail to honor His desire that we live lives of trusting obedience – lives that, to overcome our “flesh”, must depend on the power of Holy Spirit. (John 14:21, 23; Acts 1:3-8) Otherwise, the “old self” and Satan continue to assert control.
The Lord sent Holy Spirit to baptize, empower and lead those who trust in Him. But if that power is preoccupied with our own prosperity or personal “experiences” rather than loving, sacrificial service to God and others, we are catering to our “self” and not His Spirit. (Luke 9:23; Galatians 5:13-17) We fail to empower the life God wants. (1 John 2:3-6) We will not see evil dislodged, or the Kingdom restored around us.
Kingdom problems require Kingdom solutions. Know God’s love. Receive God’s forgiveness. Receive God’s Holy Spirit. But most of all, receive God’s Lordship over all your life. Then go lovingly help others do the same.
Jesus put it this way: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
God bless you, and God bless our community.