What does it mean to be Kingdom Citizens?
The topic and idea of the kingdom dominates the gospel narrative. It is one of the most important themes of Jesus’ message made evident by His repeated use of it in sermons, parables, miracles and rebuke. Perhaps in His greatest sermon ever, the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus speaks of the Beatitudes immediately at the onset in order to break down for us the key components of this kingdom. Because it will be at the forefront of His ministry to come and because it will be the cause of what He ultimately dies for, Jesus wanted all men to know and understand the importance of the kingdom and what they needed to do in relation to it.
And all these years later, Jesus is still hoping we see the importance of the kingdom and that we take necessary action. Jesus invites us and welcomes us to be a part of this incredible spiritual rule and domain. In one sense this rule is now active in the church but it will be even greater in Heaven to come. If we have any hope of being citizens in such a kingdom, we must be “poor in spirit.” We must be willing to be honest with ourselves and mourn over our sin with a view to repentance. We may have power and the strength to one-up others and retaliate against our enemies but as kingdom citizens we must forego those things for the sake of the greater good and the greater goal. If these things are ours, then entrance and access to the kingdom is granted. We become a part of the majestic domain of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Yet, being a citizen of the kingdom is more than just getting in and having access. True kingdom citizens seek to be involved in any way they can to grow their faith and their knowledge. They look for ways and means through which they can further evolve into the character of their Lord Jesus Christ. Those who enter the kingdom and have access to the kingdom must continue in humility, mourning and meekness but they must build upon that. Many people want to stop with humility and repentance thinking this is all that is required. But Jesus admonished that kingdom citizens must embody holiness in their daily living. Holiness is one of the most important, if not the most important characteristic of God. He wants us to be like Him. To be holy is to be separate, set apart or otherworldly. So, what does holiness in daily living look like?
In Matt. 5:6-9, Jesus tells us exactly how we ought to be holy as He is holy. We need to be people who are constantly hungering and thirsting for righteousness. This means that we need to study our bibles and worship God every opportunity we have. We need to be kind to one another but also kind to our enemies. Holiness also demands mercy. God is known for His mercy and as citizens of His kingdom we must also be merciful. We need to be people who are willing to show compassion and offer forgiveness even when someone doesn’t deserve it. God has forgiven us even though we do not deserve it. How much more should we have mercy on one another!
Kingdom citizens must also be pure in heart. While it is hard to live in a world of sin and a world that is carnal in nature, we must strive to be unblemished and untainted. We need to flee immorality and run the other direction from anything that is contrary to the will of God. Citizens must be peacemakers. Making amends with enemies and bringing those together who are at odds is crucial to our relationship with God. The results won’t always be perfect but as long as we do our best, we will remain in the kingdom. These qualities must at all costs be a part of our identity because our relationship with God depends upon it. Heaven depends upon it! We need to practice these things daily and remain faithful to the very end. Are you a kingdom citizen? If not, you can be one today. Come to Jesus and join the kingdom.