How would life be different if you had only one year left on earth? How would you decide what is important and what could wait? What would you do? How would you spend your time knowing it is going to be a very short stay here?
While on earth, Christ lived very intentionally for one reason. That reason is discussed in the book of John.
Spend a moment reading John 18:33-38
Here, Christ affirmed that he was a king, but that his kingdom was not earthly, rather it was located elsewhere. It is interesting when discussing the Kingdom of God. It has a not yet but all ready sense to it. In other words, while we already experience a portion of the kingdom, there is still more and something greater that will only be experienced after life on this planet. For Christ and the Twelve, this meant they had a purpose and were to set their sights narrowly on that purpose. They were able to accomplish this because they lived lives that were “Not of This World.”
Not of this world meant that Christ saw things and opportunities different from those around Him. While others were focused on the present, Jesus often focused on the underlying issues and on the bigger picture of God’s plan. Jesus understood this physical world will be done away with, therefore, there were much more important, spiritual things to be addressed. This mindset has importance for Christians today. Let’s look at what an out of this world kingdom means for Christians.
1. A Different Perspective
Like Christ, those who live not of this world means they understand there is more going on than what meets the eye. Ephesians 6:12 says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 reminds us “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” Christ understood the kingdom is of spiritual nature and therefore the fight is of spiritual nature. But this is not the only applicable meaning of not of this world. It also means those who are of the kingdom live a drastically different lifestyle.
2. A Different Lifestyle
Our lifestyle choices and ambitions change when one becomes of the not of this world kingdom. Philippians 2:3-4 reminds that we are to “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:24 says “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” And Mark 10:42-45 records Jesus’ words as “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be servant of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
3. A Different Response
Read Matthew 5:38-43 to get an idea concerning our response. What is the natural response we have when someone does us wrong? Whether we are talking about being cut off in traffic or cheated in a business deal, the natural thing to do is to try to get even. Jesus does not just instruct his followers to live in this way, he does it himself. He refuses to look out for his own interests. They beat him, mocked him, spit on him, and crucified him and he prayed for them. Just like Christ, we are called to act not of this world and not to seek revenge. Rather, we should take the example of Christ who forgave, extended grace, and loved regardless of what others said and did to him. This leads to our final discussion of a different calling we have as those not of this world.
4. A Different Calling
As Children of a Heavenly Kingdom, we have a calling. That calling is one of holiness, mercy, and proclamation. We are told to share the good news of the Kingdom with others (Matthew 28:18ff). Christians have a mission, a calling. We are called to not keep the kingdom to ourselves, but to share it with all who will listen and invite them into the kingdom.
Christians are called to live as those who belong not to this world, but to another. Are you living as if you belong to the kingdom of this world or a kingdom that is not of this world?