I love the way Ray Vander Laan illustrates the expanding influence of God’s kingdom when we Christians live in faithful obedience to Christ. He says every time we obey our King – in big or little things, whether in our families or throughout our communities – we extend His kingdom by a square inch.
That’s the example Jesus lived out before us, and one which He asks us to follow. He extended God’s kingdom by doing the will of His Father, by loving His neighbor, by loving His enemy, by touching the unclean, and by caring for sinners. In each instance, He put into practice the will of God, and God’s kingdom was extended.
The same is true for us in how we conduct ourselves. The decisions we make in our classes, at our jobs, and in our homes either give away a square inch that belongs to the King or take away a square inch now belonging to the Evil One.
If we run our business faithfully to God, His kingdom will grow because our business then becomes a part of His kingdom where His will is done. When we raise our children faithfully to God, the Lord’s kingdom grows.
For the Christian community to understand the role God has for us in the culture, we have to rightly discern what Jesus meant when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
Early believers would have interpreted His words through the context of their culture and heard Him say, “My kingdom did not come from this world, but it exists right now, here, among you.”
The people of that time understood the structure of power and authority all too well. They were subjects to the imperial rule of Caesar, who embodied the full authority of the Roman Empire. Caesar spread his kingdom through violence, blood, and overpowering the weak.
Jesus, on the other hand, said His kingdom was not expanded through violence and power. The world would be changed through sacrificial living, being a light to those lost in the darkness of sin, and by loving your neighbor.
When Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow Me,” He wasn’t simply warning us that we would suffer for what we believe, although that’s literally what it means for believers around the world. More broadly, it was a challenge to recognize the true way God’s kingdom is established throughout homes, communities, and the earth.
The implications of that are staggering. By God’s design, the Early Church wasn’t able to bring about influence through the ballot box or by an army. Instead, God gave them a power far greater than any government could devise. The Early Church had the power of God’s unconditional love. They loved their neighbor and their enemies, and it changed the world.
Our task, in our time, is no different. Our mission hasn’t changed because God hasn’t changed.
We’re not merely to say to the world, “This is what marriage is.” We are to show the world through how we live, “This is what marriage looks like when God is allowed to be in charge.”
Or, “This is what a family looks like….”
Or, “This is what a business looks like….”
Or, “This is what ministry looks like when God is in charge because we live to expand the love of His kingdom.”
God’s kingdom grows when we become the love of God in people’s lives, even to those with whom we disagree. The Lord’s kingdom gains a small – but eternally significant – square inch as each one of us does God’s will.
As you may know, Ray Vander Laan has been doing tours in Israel and other locations from the Old and New Testaments for many years with Focus on the Family. With Ray, we produced the That the World May Know series. We are now releasing set number 14 in that series titled, “The Mission of Jesus,” filmed on location in Israel and in Rome, Italy.
On today’s and tomorrow’s broadcasts, we’ll hear from Ray about what we can learn from the mission of Jesus. Specifically, we’ll explore how we can apply those truths to our own lives and to better exhibit love and compassion to a world that so desperately needs to know God.