By Kathryn Wenth
"Blast, I’m struggling again in my ability to think kindly of this person that keeps getting on my nerves. If only they wouldn’t behave like they do, then I could be patient and kind with them. Why is it that they always put me in such a bad mood?" This is a real life struggle for me and many of us. Relationships are what His kingdom is advanced through. They are the model of showing His love for us to the world. My struggle in them begs the questions: Whose kingdom am I advancing, His or mine? Does Kathryn’s kingdom grow faster in my life than His - one of patience and kindness, the Kingdom of unconditional love?
What cripples us from building God’s kingdom is us being at the center of our universe rather than Jesus. This addiction to be in control and self protect is most often fueled by fears that have defined our belief system that counter who He says we are. And the truth is that although we often didn’t choose the situations in our life that have so dented our vehicle and fragmented our identity, we can choose to be restored and transformed through the cross. What it requires is that we choose to appropriate what He has done through His death and resurrection to our lives - past, present, and future. This reminds me of a truth that Jesus spoke to me recently, “Don’t let the wounds of the past fester so that the pain of those wounds become more powerful than the pain I suffered on the cross so that those wounds would be healed!”
What does it look like to build for Him? In order to answer this question, let us revisit woman’s initial choice to advance her own agenda. If we read Genesis 3, we witness Adam and Eve choosing their own judgment over walking and talking with God - the purest relationship. Eve, tempted by Satan to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, chose to listen to these four words, “Did God really say?” At that point she used her own judgment and chose to be seduced by her desire to call the shots. She in turn introduced this “look we can be like God and know it all” to Adam who used his own judgment and chose to eat the fruit. When I say, they used their own judgment; they chose their personal desire, their own judgment, over God’s warning, putting themselves first before their intimate relationship with God. They chose to be right in their own eyes, which made their perspective a better choice. By following this plan they basically said to God, “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
Adam and Eve’s choice was followed by guilt - I’ve done something bad. Then it moved to shame - I am bad, which produced the response to hide from His presence. Their fear chose punishment and separation from the love of God. When there is tension in our relationship to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because of our using our own judgment, we typically choose to step away from or withhold unconditional love from ourselves and others.
This same pattern plays out in our life today when we or others make bad choices - Did God really say that if I come to Him and ask forgiveness, He will forgive me? Did He really say not to judge myself and others? Did He really say that He came to set me free? We choose not to forgive, resulting in us judging ourselves and others, experiencing guilt then shame, followed by separation. Our heart becomes disconnected from Unconditional Love, because we’re afraid that our bad choice is bigger than the power of His death and resurrection, and that we and others deserve to be punished rather than forgiven.
What are some of the symptoms that expose that we’re building our own kingdom?
So how do we get back on track, giving our body, soul, and spirit to building the Kingdom of Heaven?
Blessings on each of you as you choose to advance His kingdom today!
About the author // Kathryn Wenth is an associate pastor at New Life Family Church. Her favorite thing to do is to encourage others in the journey to grow in Jesus’ incomparable, unconditional love!