Back in July, in preparing for a message about the advancement of the Kingdom of God, I wanted a photo to illustrate a point. ISIS had just made the news when they entered Syria. Over the internet and the main media, they revealed plans of establishing a caliphate across the entire Middle East in five years. This was the picture I selected and used:
When I shared that just over a month ago, little did I know that ISIS would become the biggest threat to Christians in that region; and the world! Since then, churches have been closed, thousands have been forced to evacuate; many have been killed and beheaded, both men and children; and women have reportedly been abused, raped or trafficked as sex slaves 😦 And ISIS is not stopping there. More recently, they announced intentions to take over America and the West that they may Raise the Flag of Allah at the White House. Asia is not spared either as ISIS eyes Malaysia and Indonesia, stepping up their recruitment exercise amongst the radicals there.
What was the point I was trying to make with the picture? Simply, that these guys understand what it means to advance a kingdom albeit a very different one. Say what you like but you have got to admit that they have vision, strategy, conviction and resolve. Indeed, they have a totally different motivation and one might even go as far as to say that this agenda is beyond political but spiritual and demonic. Still, let us not miss the main point: they believe in something and they sure act and move like they really believe in it!
What about us, Christians? Please do not misunderstand for I am in no way suggesting that we become militant and mount another crusade. Jesus set the tone very clearly when He declared to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36, NKJV) That said, does this mean that we just sit back and relax? On this note, it really irks me when I hear some spout Christian arm-chair rhetoric so readily and spiritually, “Oh, we must remember that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, that our battle is in the spiritual realm.” In other words, let’s utter a short prayer and get on with church. Have these forgotten that when one part of the body is injured, the whole body hurts and suffers too?
Interestingly, when the picture was flashed on the screen, more than half responded with blank looks. They didn’t even know what was happening to our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Closer to home, in my interactions with believers, many cannot even explain what the kingdom of God is, much less live, or die, for it. In today’s dominion-type language, we only understand the kingdom of God as prosperity, success and breakthroughs … in my life, my bank account, my career, my own kingdom, amen! But to advance the kingdom of God?; to participate in what God is doing in these times and seasons? Sorry, no comprehendo. By the way, can you please pray for me to close this really big deal that would secure my retirement?
Do we believe in the kingdom of God and the battles that must be fought, even if these are largely spiritual? Have we even begun living for the kingdom and its purposes? How much do we value or treasure the kingdom of God? Would we give up everything for the kingdom’s sake? What if such an eventuality is forced upon us, like it suddenly descended upon the believers in Syria and Iraq? Would that be the only thing that would shake and awaken the church out of its slumber? Would that be what it takes to test the genuineness of our faith, to refine us as pure gold?
Oh Lord, have mercy! Let Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.