While many people are making New Year’s resolutions, I’m praying for a supernatural recognition of who believers are in Christ. We are kingdom people—no longer orphans, but sons and daughters of almighty God and members of the family of faith. Together, Christians are the body of Christ – blood-bought, born-again believers. We must recognize who Christ is in us and who we are in Christ. Even as Jesus was about to ascend into heaven, His followers were still asking, “Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” They were focused intently on a physical realm rather than the spiritual reality Jesus continually presented to them.
The Lord reminded them in His departing words that the times and seasons belonged to God, but they were to tarry until they received the fullness of His Spirit. Then they were to be witnesses of the kingdom to the ends of the earth. Jesus promised He would not leave them as orphans, but that He would send another one of the same kind – the Holy Spirit – to live in them. In a brief period of time, thousands were added to the church because of the witness of these Spirit-filled believers. In the Book of Acts, they were referred to as “those who had turned the world upside down.” The fact is, they were turning an inverted world order right-side up.
In his classic book on the kingdom, scholar and theologian Dallas Willard told the story of a fighter pilot who attempted to ascend, but instead flew straight into the ground. Unknowingly, the pilot had been flying upside-down. Willard pointed out that our prevailing irrational academic mind-set has much of our society, and the church, unknowingly living with an upside-down worldview. Because we don’t understand our present condition, decisions lead us toward continual catastrophic crashes in everything from relationships to security and economic stability. We seem unable to make wise decisions because we have not submitted our lives to the appropriate reverential “fear of the Lord.”
Most professing believers fail to understand they are truly children of God and joint heirs. They see themselves as orphans and live as slaves, when in reality, God has set us free. As Paul declared to the Galatians, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1, NIV) Most people go to church buildings and do not recognize that God does not dwell there. He is not to be found in buildings built by hand but in our lives because we are “the temple of the Holy Spirit.” The only way God’s glory and power permeate a worship house is when people come in filled with the glory and presence of our mighty God.
I am praying that every person I can possibly influence will come to recognize their importance in fulfilling God’s kingdom purpose. Years ago, when I was exhausted, but seeking God with all my heart and knowing that I loved Him, He revealed to me that I had come to understand what was in His heart, but everything in His heart was not my part. I couldn’t accomplish all He willed to do. I had to discover my part in God’s heart and fulfill it. He made clear to me that in order to fulfill my part, I am to help others understand their importance in fulfilling kingdom purpose and discover their part in God’s heart. We are not all the same, and we do not all have the same gifts or assignments. But every one of us is just as important in fulfilling God’s eternal purpose as the other. We must learn how to better relate to one another. It is only when we are properly connected to each other and submitted to Christ as the head that He is clearly revealed through His body—the church.
I’ve recently encouraged people to get the book The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews, which shares the scientific law known as “the Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions.” In essence, this law demonstrates that the motion of a butterfly’s wings can move molecules of air to the point that a hurricane is created on the other side of the world. Andrews uses this illustration to show the potential every person has on impacting others and even the world by their obedience to God’s will.
I want to help everyone recognize that Adam made the worst swap in history when he traded sonship for orphan status. His attempts to cover his guilt by his own efforts and mere fig leaves were as futile as people trying to practice religious behavior and traditions in order to earn forgiveness and salvation. Jesus paid it all. He gave His life to give us life. Jesus freely offers us everything we will receive. As Peter said, He gives us everything pertaining to life and godliness. This means every aspect of life. He came that we might have life and have it abundantly. It has nothing to do with things, even though God said He has given us “everything richly to enjoy.” The fact is, you can’t enjoy anything—including riches—if you have not discovered the fullness of life Christ freely offers.
Paul swapped orphan status in order to gain sonship. Christ made it possible. Paul said he “counted all things but loss,” actually dung or rubbish, in order to know Him. Nothing in this world compares with simply knowing Christ as He is.
Christians know that we have future assurance of eternal life in the kingdom of heaven and yet fail to recognize the kingdom of heaven is in us here and now. What good is it to have car insurance on a car that won’t run? God did not just promise life in the “by and by,” but also in the here and now. Jesus says we do have it and that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. It is within us, and it is to be released through us. It is this power and the glory of God that will turn our upside-down world right-side up.
Since we are new creations in Christ and ambassadors for Christ, why don’t we begin to live like it? We can become the clear answer to Jesus’ prayer that we “be one with the Father and perfected in unity.” If God has said we are to call Him Father, surely we can receive the grace to call one another “brother and sister.”
As you begin the new year, allow the river of God’s life and love to be released toward others. Focus on God and His kingdom purpose, and He will readjust your focus and sensitivity to the needs of others. Ask God to enable you to directly impact and influence someone or some family with particular needs in their life. Don’t try to convert them to your belief system. Allow them to see that your mind has been so transformed you are experiencing the life Jesus revealed.
Let’s join together, yielding to the promise of the Father, fullness in the Spirit, and become witnesses at home and to the ends of the earth. We can be the great difference-makers on planet Earth because Jesus has made an obvious difference in us.
Be encouraged by Paul’s words to the Philippian Christians: “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” (Phil. 2:1-4, The Message)