The Meaning about the Kingdom of God
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How will I pay the bills? What will I eat? How will I acquire a happy marriage? How will my honeymoon be, how will I obtain a successful career? These are the main concerns in the minds of many people, but Jesus cooled down his disciples by issuing them with a higher purpose. He asked them to stop worrying about the patterns of this world, their needs and requirements instead, they should first seek the kingdom of God/Heaven and this is accompanied by the promise that all their earthly needs and requirements shall be met. Never be anxious of what you will eat or drink or anything else, the Heavenly father knows that you need them and He will indeed grant them to you as it is His promise to us only if you first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all shall be well, (Matt 6: 31-33, RVS). Note that other Bible versions use ‘an assurance instead of His righteousness (Ladd, p15). The most important thing to do is to first understand what Jesus meant by ‘his Kingdom.’ This is because the Biblical or the term as Jesus used it is quite different from the typical usage of kingdom in English as people or land ruled by king.
Jesus’ parables as clues to the term Kingdom of God
It is of much importance to note that the book of Mathew uses the term kingdom of Heaven while the book of Luke and Mark uses kingdom of God but they all mean the same thing. In order to come up with precise answer to what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God, it is essential to examine the parables of Jesus because almost two-thirds of these parables refers to the kingdom of God (Murray, p90). The first parable and the key to understand all other parables is the parable of the “sower.” Jesus preferred this parable as a key to understanding other parables as we see in Mark 4:13. The parable of the sower is in Matt, 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8. The parable according to the book of Mathew states as follows.
“A sower/farmer went out to sow and in the process some seeds fell on the way and the birds devoured them. Others fell on rocky ground where they sprang out due to lack of enough soil and they were scorched when the sun rose and withered away because they had no roots. Other seeds fell upon thorns where they were chocked when they began to spring. Others fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some hundred folds some sixtyfold, some thirty. He who has ears let him hear” the meaning of the parable is that when a person hears the word of the kingdom and do not get it right (accept), the devil comes and snatches it away that is planted in his heart; this are the seeds that fell on the path (Ladd, p15). A person who hears the word and receives it with joy yet he has no root in himself is compared to the seeds that fall on rocky ground since he can endure for a sometimes but when tribulations comes he falls. For the seeds that fell among thorns is like a person who hears the word but bears no fruits as the delight and care of the patterns of the world choke it. Lastly, those that fell on good soil and bore fruits are compared to a person who receives the word understand it and bears fruits, in some case hundreds fold, in other sixty while in other thirty. Matt 13: 18-23.
The seed sown is like the word of the kingdom as in Mathew or the word as in Mark or the word of God as in Luke. Jesus referred to the commandment of God when he used the term “word of God” the laws (commandments) of are very clear to everyone in the world (Murray, p90). According to Jesus, the word is taught to people by God (Isaiah 54:13) whereby those who pay attention to it learn from (accept) the truth and are attracted to the teachings of Jesus because they are not His but the Father’s (John 7: 16-17), (john 12:49). According to Jesus, the commandments of God can be summarized as you shall love God and you shall love your neighbor (Mathew 22:37-39). Any person can choose to follow the commandments (truth) and put it into practice in his own life (France, p337). Those who refuse to accept the word means they fail to accept the love of God but those who accept the love of God (his commandments) produce the fruits of love, which are good deeds in many ways. Just like in the parable of the sower, the word of the kingdom is planted into the heart but only he who accepts it, bears fruits.
In the parable of treasure, Jesus compared the Kingdom of God with a treasure meaning it is valuable and contained within something (hidden in a field) but can be discovered. The kingdom of God can finally be found at some cost just like the man who found the treasure and went to buy the field. The other one is the parable of the pearl where the kingdom of heaven is compared to a merchant who went to look for fine pearls of great value. He sold all he got and bought it (Mathew 13:45) (Pryzybylski, p94). The kingdom of God is valuable just like the pearl of great value thus it can be acquired at some cost where an individual need to surrender all to God. The kingdom of god can as well be found by searching as the merchant searched for the fine pearls. The other is the parable of the mastered seed. Jesus compared the kingdom of God with the mustard seed since when it is sown on the ground it becomes the smallest of all seeds but when it grows up, it becomes the greatest of all shrubs as it puts forth wide braches that the birds can make their nests in its shade (Eldon, p82). The kingdom of God is planted in a place, grows up and serves a specific purpose.
The other one is the parable of the leavened bread (Luke 13:20-21). The leavened substance is the one put in dough to ferment for the dough to rise when baking bread. According to the parable, the kingdom of God is deliberately put into something an infusing influence on what it is placed in. Jesus believed that the kingdom of God shall come as God’s will done on earth is it is in heaven (Mathew 6:10). According to him, it is the commandment of God to love God and our neighbors. Let it be clear that the kingdom of God begins within the individual but it does not end there since it has an outward aspect to it. God’s love is very evident in the deeds of an individual who accepts and understands the love of God. The kingdom of God is supremacy of God’s love commandment in people and in the society (Murray, p90). In order to understand what Jesus meant by the term the kingdom of God is at hand, that it is important to focus on the answer the Jewish scribe gave to Jesus concerning the love of God. He answered Jesus that God is one as there is no one like Him and we need to love him with all our hearts and understanding, and strength and to love our neighbors just as we love ourselves is very crucial than burnt offering and sacrifice. Jesus told him that he was right and that he was not far away from the kingdom. When Jesus said that the kingdom of God is at hand, he meant that we are not much away from the kingdom when we identifies the love for God and the love for the neighbor (Pryzybylski, p94). The kingdom of God becomes real to us every day when we decide to follow or obey the laws of God. The kingdom of God is indeed at hand for every individual to discover.
Applications for modern believers
According to the gospel of Christ, Jesus taught that the disciples were to search for the eternal life having the knowledge that it is acquired as a free gift. Most of the true Christians nowadays obey this to some extend as they strive for righteousness by faith but deep down their minds they know that they will never deserve eternal life because they will never be righteous or perfect. Nevertheless, several Christians have put their focus on one major aspect of Jesus, teaching at the expense of others (Ladd, p15). For example, most Christians teach that the Christian life is actively searching for salvation from above though they fail to understand that Christians are assured of success meaning that the teaching of Jesus was meant to cure. In order to be sure to have the eternal life, we as Christians need to seek the love of God as it will bear the fruits of love in our lives and we also need to obey his commandments to be sure to see or acquire eternal life. That is what is meant by seeking the kingdom of God. It is doing or following all that is required of us according to the Bible and the kingdom of God shall indeed be inherited by us.
Seeking the kingdom of God simply means acquiring eternal life though some Christians do not recognize that as they misinterpret it to mean bringing people into the kingdom of God (Eldon, p82). An individual needs to seek the kingdom of God or eternal life first before he can lead others to it. A drunkard person cannot tell his fellow drinker or his son/daughter to stop drinking as he does it because it is not logic. He must stop the behavior first then be able to influence others to stop it. The same happens to salvation; a person must first acquire or accept the will of God and his love in order to be able to teach others about the fruits of God’s love because he will have tested them. This is seeking the kingdom of God and eternal life (MacArthur, p102). Note the following three aspects of seeking the kingdom of God with faith as a Christian;
- The focus to the father in heaven gives a person to feel free from the anxiety and restless labor for earthly things as individuals recognizes that God will provide them with everything they need after seeking eternal life of the kingdom of God.
- Putting the things of this world in a perfect prospect leads most Christians to generously serve God by giving out their resources such as money, time and energy to prove their love for others (John, p104).
- Most Christians do their righteous deeds to please God not to receive appraisal from men. Therefore, the strive for unseen acts and righteous thoughts altogether with visible actions.