Last Sunday I began (notice I started - I didn't finish, yet!) a message on the Lord's Prayer in Luke 11:1-13. I broke the prayer down into three sections: an upward look, an outward look, and an inward look. In dealing with the outward look, I talked about what "your kingdom come" means for us today. I take the position that the Kingdom of God is here in the Church - the hearts and lives of His people. We are an expression of His Kingdom. We are to advance His Kingdom. (The following is taken from the message of January 8, 2012).
So what keeps us from advancing the Kingdom more effectively? I believe it is the fact that we allow many things to rival God's Kingdom. What kingdoms rival God’s? Thanks to the suggestion of my good friend Steve Forsyth, I began to look at the rivalry in light of the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11. The temptations Jesus faced address kingdom rivalry in a succinct manner. Let me explain.
The first kingdom to concern ourselves with is self-wealth. The temptation to turn the stones to bread is simply greed / materialism. It’s a refusal to trust God to provide. This rivalry redirects our vision away from our dependence upon Him. That’s really the emphasis we see in 11:3 – “Give us each day our daily bread.” The emphasis on daily bread is on what is sufficient or necessary. In the OT (Exodus 16:4; Deut. 8:6), the Hebrews depended on the daily provision of manna as they wandered in the wilderness. In Jesus’ day, many of the workers were day laborers – they didn’t have permanent jobs. They had to depend on God to provide work on a daily basis (Matthew 20:1-5). We tend to depend upon the sweat of our brow (self-wealth) until we have our backs against the wall.
A second rivalry is self-importance. A friend of mine put it as self-lust. The temptation for Jesus to throw Himself off the temple and be rescued by a heavenly special forces unit was nothing more than Satan’s way of getting Jesus to be concerned more with image than about God’s will being done. Self-importance is polar opposite of humility. Pride and arrogance are the antithesis of a kingdom mentality. We are at great risk when we trust in our own wisdom and accomplishments. We are to have the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:5-11).
The final rivalry is self-power. This is a control issue. Satan challenged Jesus to bow and worship him, with the promise of rule over the world (its kingdoms). It wasn’t Satan’s to give. But he dangled this enticingly before the Messiah with the mistaken notion that he could distract Him from His mission. We get distracted when it comes to seeking power for ourselves. We want to be in control; and we don’t want anyone to have control over us. It’s a spirit of lawlessness. We want things on our own terms. We get so caught up in the day-to-day and we don’t want any interruptions. It’s all about our goals, our dreams, and our destinies. Embracing this mindset rivals God’s invitation for us to yield power and control to Him so that He can use us for the sake of His Kingdom. Our purposes take priority over His.