Over the past several years, God has kindled in me a yearning for more knowledge of the kingdom of God, and having come out of what I believe is apostate Christianity a few years ago, I have had to renew my mind as to who I really am.
Are we merely church members, a part of a system of denominations and organizations with myriad beliefs on bible doctrines and teachings, or are we kingdom citizens? The latter of course, but sadly, most Christians have never been taught about the kingdom of God. Instead, they’re getting a steady diet of, “Live your best life now,” “Reposition yourself to prosper” and many other similar teachings that have absolutely nothing to do with the kingdom of God.
The kind of teachings that are coming across the pulpits today offer very little if anything about our kingdom citizenship or who we are in Christ.
Large churches are spending multiplied thousands of dollars in honorariums given to celebrity preachers who fleece the flock, and instead of distilling kingdom wisdom, they are teaching the sheeple how to employ worldly principles in order to be successful in this worldly kingdom. What infuriates me is that apostate preachers have turned kingdom citizens with full rights of citizenship including the authority of Jesus Christ, provisions, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost into impotent church members.
One famous preacher procured the services of Susan Orman, a lesbian financial adviser on CNN, to give a seminar to attendees of one of his church functions. This same famous preacher requires honorariums in excess of 100,000 to be a guest speaker at a host church. What is so sad about this kind of chicanery is that God’s people allow themselves to be used in this fashion – Jeremiah 5:31.
It causes my righteous blood to boil when I see this kind of abuse and the acquiescence of God’s people. I pray that there will be many more who will follow my lead, come outside the camp to truly follow Jesus our King – Hebrews 13:13.
Now that I have your attention, let me say that a kingdom is simply a king’s domain – the citizens over which the King has dominion. The question must now be asked, how can kingdom citizens be distinguished from mere church members or anyone else? Is there biblical data on the characteristics of kingdom citizens? Indeed there is.
Any group of people can be distinguished by their culture. I like this definition of culture:
- A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.
I am an African-American, and there are certain things in black culture that are distinct and culturally exclusive. Most blacks that I know grew up eating chitlins at certain times of the year. It is a tradition that has been passed down from slavery to the present day. Music, fashion, certain slangs and idioms, etc. have defined blacks in this country as a group of people. Each group of people have their own unique culture that distinguishes them from other peoples.
Jesus enumerated in Matthew 5:1-12 ten things that distinguish kingdom citizens from worldly citizens. What Jesus shares with us is what I call “Kingdom Culture.”
Verse 3 – The poor in spirit: The poor in spirit are those who are broken and contrite – Psalms 51:17. They are not haughty in spirit (Proverbs 16:18) but are clothed with humility. They are always in need of spiritual edification and affirmation from the King.
Verse 4 – The mourners: Jesus equated mourning with fasting in Matthew 9:14-15. We mourn and fast in His absence, longing for Him to move in our behalf. We mourn at the injustice we’re surrounded with living as strangers here in this world. The witnesses in Revelation 11:3 will prophesy in sackcloth ( figurative for mourning) for 3 ½ years. They will mourn for dying, sighing, humanity who refuses to repent even after the many blows of judgement that are struck against them. Anyone can mourn, but only kingdom citizens mourn for their enemies. Only kingdom citizens mourn in hope that the Lord will come quickly – Revelation 22:20.
Verse 5 – The meek: The Greek word is prays. It is pronounced phonetically prah-ooce. It means mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit. God places great value on this culture characteristic – 1 Peter 3:4. Meekness should in no way be misconstrued as weakness. Jesus is our example of meekness and He was the epitome of strength, absolute authority, and power under control.
Verse 6 – The hungry and thirsty after righteousness: If you’re hungry and thirsty for righteousness, you will seek after it - Matthew 6:33. Seeking the righteousness of the kingdom means seeking the kingdom way of doing things (the way it works and operates) as opposed to the world’s way. When we do, we have a guarantee from our King that we shall be filled.
Verse 7 – The merciful: It flowed from God to us when instead of the demands that justice required i.e., that we have the very best that hell has to offer, He wrapped us in His love and place us in the royal family. I love the hymn “At Calvary.” “Mercy there was great and grace was free!” When we are merciful to others, we then can come boldly to the throne of Grace in the time of need – Hebrews 4:16.
Verse 8 – The pure in heart: A pure heart is a heart that has been cleansed by the blood. A pure heart is a heart that has been cleansed by the Words spoken by the King – John 15:3. A pure heart is a heart that is not double minded – James 4:8 A pure heart is a heart that is not cluttered with the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, or anything else that would keep us from being fruitful in the kingdom - Luke 8:14-15 More than any other culture characteristic, this one is probably the most important because only the pure in heart shall see God.
Verse 9 – The peacemakers: A peacemaker is simply someone who loves peace and endeavors to live at peace with everyone - Romans 12:18. I think we need to understand that living as sheep among wolves, it’s not always possible to be at peace with some people. If you find yourself in that situation, remember, we wrestle not against flesh and blood….Our battle is against evil spirits that tempt and prod us to act in a manner unbecoming of a kingdom citizen. We have been given total authority over all the power of the devil. Never give in to fighting fleshly battles. When we stand our ground armed with the whole armor of God, we are conducting ourselves as sons of God.
Verse 10 – The persecuted for righteousness sake: Our culture stands out like a sore thumb in this world. We are like a light that shines on a hill exposing the darkness. When a whole group of people stands out so noticeably, It’s easy to target them. Wicked men and women who naturally love darkness have always persecuted those who are of the light. Cain vs Abel, Esau vs Jacob, Amalek vs Israel, Haman vs Mordecai are a few examples. One would naturally be inclined to be broken and saddened by persecution, but instead, kingdom citizens rejoice when they encounter various types of persecution because when we are wrongly attacked for righteousness sake, our reward is great in the kingdom of heaven. So arm yourselves with the knowledge that if you live godly in this world, you will suffer persecution – 2 Timothy 3:12. Jesus said if the world hated Him, they will hate us as well - John 15:18:25. There is no way for the godly to avoid persecution in this present darkness.
There is one other thing that distinguishes kingdom citizens from everyone else. Though they are persecuted, though they mourn, though they are poor in spirit and in some cases just plain poor. THEY ARE BLESSED! Hallelujah!
There is a coming war on the citizens of the kingdom – a clash of cultures if you will, but when the dust settles, the kingdom of God and its citizens will be exalted above all other kingdoms and cultures.