Whose Kingdom Do You Belong?

John 18:33-37

One day this old guy was driving down the freeway when his cell phone began to ring. “Stosh, I just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on the freeway. Please be careful!” Stosh looked surprised and said, “No Kidding! It’s not just one car, it’s hundreds of them!”

As we travel down the freeway of life, it’s always good to check in sometimes, you know, stop and look around you, like when you stop to cross a street. Sometimes it’s good to stop and look both ways before going any further and ask ourselves, “Which way am I headed? Am I headed the way I thought I was going? Could I be going the wrong way and not know it?”

Did you know that only 4% of the American population think they maybe going to hell? This means that 96% of Americans believe they are absolutely okay – nothing’s wrong. Yet a 2020 Pew research poll showed that only 65% of Americans identify as being a Christian and less than 25% of Americans attended any type of worship service on Sunday morning or belonged to a church. Something seems off with these numbers. Could this mean that there are a whole lot of people who are headed the wrong way but in fact they don’t know they are, or don’t believe they are doing such?

From reading the Bible, it seems that Jesus was a man who always knew who he was and where he was going. He seemed to never lose sight of these two facts during his earthly life and ministry. We could learn from him on this.

In John 18:33-37, Jesus stood on trial before the Roman Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, and he asked him, “Are you a king?” (The accusation against Jesus by the religious leaders was that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews. They even hung that accusation on a plaque over his head while he was dying on the cross.) Jesus never did make that claim. In fact, because of the miracles Jesus had performed, the people tried to make him their king over and over again, but Jesus refused each and every time. So standing there before Pilate, Jesus was asked if he was indeed a King, and Jesus told Pilate that his Kingdom “was not of this world.” But that his mission at that time was to “bear witness to the truth.” The truth? Yes, the truth of God’s work through Jesus, whom he had sent. The truth was also that the next time Pilate saw Jesus, he would be King of Kings. But for now, his Kingdom was the Kingdom of heaven, and as of yet, not of this world.

So if Jesus’ Kingdom was not of this world, and as of yet it is not until he returns, then what does that mean for Christians who are members of that kingdom? And how does that affect our lives from day to day?

If I consider myself a Christian, then like Jesus must I also believe that my citizenship in Jesus’ kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, is also not of this world? If this is the case, then this idea would give us a unique world view of ourselves, how we should see ourselves in the world, and how we should structure our lives from day to day while still in this world. This is so because like Jesus then,

WE ARE ONLY SOJOURNERS IN THIS WORLD:

  • Sojourner means traveler – someone who is only passing through, and then is gone.
  • Doesn’t that aptly describe each and every one of us? In fact, none of us know really just how long we are going to be here in this world.
  • This was the truth Abraham, and every great man and woman of faith in the Bible learned. Their hearts came to believe upon a world that was yet to come.
  • And because of their belief in a world yet to come, they ordered their lives in certain ways we read about in the Bible.
  • For example, in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
  • Nobody takes this verse as seriously as the Amish do. They try their best to not be conformed to this world as they try to live in the world but not of the world. They do not let the world dictate to them how they will dress, speak, worship, and live their lives. I’m not saying they are better. I’m just saying they take it seriously.
  • One day a Christian tour bus arrived at an Amish store and lo and behold there was a real Amish guy standing out front. When the people stepped off the bus, the Christian tour leader asked the Amish guy, “Sir, what is it like to live like an Amish guy?” The Amish man thought about it a second and then asked the group, “How many of you have televisions?” They all raised their hands. Then he asked, “How many of your are willing to live without them starting tomorrow?” Slowly all the hands came back down. “That is what it is like to be Amish.”
  • As the Apostle James wrote in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faltless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world,”
  • Polluted by the world. I think this means that God cares how the world affects us and how we live our lives.
  • I had an interesting discussion a while back in a Catechism class with a group of young persons about being conformed to this world and how the music we listen to helps to shape and mold young minds to the pattern of this world. I asked the young people what kinds of behavior were sung about in the songs they listened to everyday? After all the blushing and sheepish looks, the answers that came back were about mostly sex, drugs, violence, and rebellion. Yes, there were some good ones, but the majority were not. There is no right or wrong in the music, but they could see that the ultimate message was that it was okay, “if it feels good.”
  • We should think about that for a moment. Let me ask you, if you looked into your living room one day and saw a demon sitting on the couch talking to your son or daughter, what would be your reaction? Then why is it okay for them to listen to music that glorifies promiscuous and illicit sex, rebellion, violence and drug use?
  • Have you listened to some these songs out streaming today?
  • I think it just maybe one way how the pollution can get into our souls.
  • Luke 4:5, “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him [Jesus] in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he [the devil] said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.‘”
  • To me, that says a lot about who’s kingdom is behind the pollution being produced today. And I wonder if we can truly just indiscriminately indulge ourselves in the pleasures of this world, its music, its streaming media, and material consumerism, without being polluted by it?

I ask that as a question because living as sojourners in this world, how we live our lives is important to God, and ultimately to our own welfare. We live with either our eye on this world and all the attractions and pleasures of this world, or we live with our eye on the world to come, the world Jesus spoke about.

Jesus’ confidence before Pilate is impressive because he knows with surety who he is and where he is going, and those two facts determined how he lived his life from day to day. They gave purpose and meaning to everything he did.

If we could only live our lives with the same confidence and surety of knowing who we are as Christians and where we are going. Then there would be a whole lot of people living with confidence and purpose in life as they look for and await the coming Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. So as we look forward to that day, or when we go to meet him, let us keep in mind his words from Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” Let them be a guide to our feet, our streaming selections, and how we live our lives day in and day out while we are still here in this world. Amen, come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Robbie Taylor

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