Christian or Kingdom?

Christian or Kingdom?.jpgDienstag 28 November 2023 00:39

At an International Spiritual Retreat, I once spoke on the topic, ‘I am a Christian but I don’t believe in Christianity’. | Daniel

As we look at the Church over the past 2000 years, we need to ask ourselves, how closely do we actually live by the principles laid out in the Scriptures? If we are honest and reflective, I’d say many of us live more according to the culture we call Christianity, tainted by our doctrinal or denominational stance, than we do the Bible. 


The West, as we all know, is currently postmodern and post Christian, even though the vestiges of life and law have been built on the Christian/Judeo ethic. Historically, the good works done in society were initiated by the Church or Christians – universities, orphanages, abolishment of the slave trade, human rights, trade unions, hospitals, helping the poor and marginalised and the like. In those days, the Church stood out as salt and light. Sadly, this is no longer the case as many of these institutions have been taken over by the secular. Doing good works in society has lost the impact it once had. In many places throughout the West, Christianity is being marginalised and, in some cases, hated and seen as unprogressive and antiquated. So how do we reach such a world? 


My simple answer is let’s go back to where it all began. Let’s become the people God called us to be. Let’s put aside our Christian cultural face and replace it with a Kingdom one. Let the Scriptures challenge us rather than us trying to negotiate Scriptures to fit a modern world. 

2 Tim 3: 12 says “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. A believer reading this in Iran, Nth. Korea and the like can relate to this quite easily.  But how do we reconcile this verse in a relatively safe and tolerant country like Australia? I think it comes back to how you live – Christian or Kingdom. There are 3 things to highlight that bring this verse to light. 

1. Jesus Christ – He is the Son of God who came to give His life as a ransom for many. He was unique and, in that uniqueness, came a difference. That difference is the Kingdom of God.  As Jesus said in John 18: 36 “My kingdom is not of this world…” At its heart, the Kingdom of God is where God rules and with that comes a worldview, shaping our answers to questions such as – what is life, who am I, what is my purpose, what is right and wrong, how should I live etc. As Jesus engaged within the society he lived, his worldview clashed with those around him (as exemplified in the Parables). The Kingdom life is an inverted life to the surrounding culture. Here are a few examples –


The first is last and last is first; To be the greatest is to be the servant; To be a leader is to be a slave; To enter the Kingdom is to be like a child; Forgive those who hate you; Pray for those who persecute you; Lose your life to find it; Do not take revenge but leave room for God’s wrath. 

The Kingdom is lived by a different Spirit. Had Jesus been the same there would be no difference, but His difference became a threat to people on many levels. He was a threat to…

    • People’s way of life - how and why people did things.

    • People’s values – pride, arrogance, lust, selfishness.

    • People’s Goals – power, wealth, seduction, manipulation 

    • People’s Morality – sin in the heart and not just the action 

    • People’s Mortality – die in their sins without Him. 

    • People’s Identity – Truth is in Him. 

Because he was a threat, he had to be dealt with and the only way to do this was to eliminate him as 1 Cor 2:8 says "None of the rulers of this age understood it; for if they understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”.

Now, when we become believers, a redemptive change takes place. My life is not a fusion of the old and new but a change takes place which affects my whole identity. I am now shaped by the Spirit of Christ who lives in me. So, when Jesus says in John 15: 20 ‘…if they persecute me, they will persecute you’ expect to be treated in the same fashion if my identity is now wrapped in Christ. 


2. Godly in Christ. The term Christian has become too political, philosophical, ideological and cultural. It’s too broad a term and I believe it has lost its original meaning. To be branded as a Christian in the first century was to be looked at in vulgar terms. The writer Tacitus used the term ‘vulgar Christians’ when referring to them.  Christians were different and irrelevant to Roman society. They were even called pagans. Do we need to identify ourselves more narrowly as ‘followers of Christ’ or ‘goldy in Christ’,  to get to the heart of who we are meant to be? In the first century and in parts of the world today persecution means prison, beatings and even death. But how does persecution look in our western society where the lines between the church and world have become blurred? In other words, what does ‘godly in Christ’ look like in that context?

It’s all about the decisions we are prepared to make that identify more with Jesus than with the world. Jesus offended people by simply living the kingdom life. Are we prepared to do the same? Are we prepared to offend, to refuse to act illegally for our boss, to go against cultural expectations that are not Biblical, refuse to bow down to family pressure etc? In these types of instances, we may lose our jobs, friends, families, promotions, both within and outside the church. But what is more important – being godly in Christ or self-preservation? 

3. Will be Persecuted. The Bible does not say maybe. It goes with the territory of being godly in Christ. It is not about having a persecution complex, but if your identity is wrapped in Christ, don’t be surprised when it happens. It will come looking for you. When the Bible speaks of persecution it does so in positive terms. It often says to rejoice when it happens (Matt 5:11-12; James 1: 2-3; 1 Pet 1: 6-7; 1 Pet 3: 14-15; 1 Pet 5: 10). Why? Because of the hope that is within you- Jesus Christ, who is now my identity. In Acts 1:8 the Greek term used for ‘witness’ is the word ‘martyr’ or MARTUS. The important thing to note here is that this is not a verb but a noun. The difference being that it is a statement of who I am. It is how I am to identify myself in living out this life. It is the “He must increase and I must decrease” John 3:30.


I define identity as follows “It’s what gives you value, purpose and meaning as an individual in this world. It’s at the very heart of who you are”. The ultimate question I am asking is, where is your identity built? Many build it on their family, career, culture, position, status, wealth, talents, achievements, education etc. But for us it has to be built on a deliberate choice to follow and identify with Christ and then leave the consequences up to Him. Is the church coming full circle again to what it was like in the 1st century?  Let’s not be surprised if it does and if it continues to do so, the only way we will have any real impact is if we choose to live by the Kingdom values and not the Christian ones we have created over millennia. 

Daniel, Mobiliser | Sydney, Australia

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