Kingdom of God vs. Kingdom of the World

Building God's Kingdom

The world tells us to build our own empires to be successful. Every day we are inundated with self-help stories telling us to take control of our own lives and build the steps to more money and more freedom. Not surprisingly, “How To Build Your Own Empire” has a high ranking on Google as a frequently searched term. 

Building The Kingdom of God

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It is really easy to get caught up in building our own kingdoms instead of serving God. We can start out on the right track towards building God’s kingdom but soon our own selfish desires can take over. Amassing more power and influence for our own glory becomes a priority. Power is enticing and corrupting. It lies to us telling us we have accomplished something great. 

Building Your Own Empire 

Our culture tells us that our lives and identities are ours to create. Countless stories are told to us that it’s simply a matter of chasing our dreams. We love this narrative because it puts us in control and makes us feel good to believe that we are the masters of our successful futures. But there is a downside to this line of thinking. 

This perspective puts the weight of our happiness on us. Because it is centered on us and our choices, any difficulty, any unhappiness, any challenge is also our fault. Our identity and worth become dependent on our job, our salary or the recognition we get from others. But we will never be good enough, savvy enough or work hard enough. 

In this framework, our intense need for affirmation drives our need for success. We are focused solely on ourselves instead of being focused on the glory of God or advancing the work of His kingdom. We are constantly striving to build our own empire instead of being led by the Lord and letting Him bring opportunities for service or growth. 

Ultimately, it comes down to our prideful nature. It’s a heart-attitude that overflows into our decision-making, motivations, and activities. The heart of pride is focused on “self”. It leads us to desire independence apart from God. And we will do just about anything to get what we want. 

Are you focused on building your own kingdom more than God’s? 

Example of Pride in the Bible

From the beginning of time, humanity has not settled for anything less than being equal to God. We have wanted to live a life of ultimate control, without being under the rule or power of God. Think about the Garden of Eden.

“And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9.

As good and beautiful as the original Garden of Eden was, it was vulnerable to evil and deception. We see this when Satan took the form of a serpent and entered into the Garden of Eden to take Eve’s focus off of God. Instead, he lured her into believing she can obtain the knowledge of God and thus be like God. 

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis:16-17.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord had made.” Genesis 3:1

“But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:4-6.

God had originally put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden to give Adam and Eve the opportunity to walk in genuine obedience and faith. But they decided to believe the lies of the serpent and stray away from clinging to God’s goodness.

*All Bible Verses are from the English Standard Version.

What is the Kingdom of God?

The kingdom of God is mentioned frequently throughout the Old and New Testaments. In fact, the kingdom of God is one of the main teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. The kingdom of God is God’s redemptive reign over everything, the fulfillment of God’s will on earth. When Jesus came to Earth, He inaugurated the coming of God’s kingdom. While He did not fully consummate it’s final coming, He did start it. Jesus is both the Redeemer and the King. When He ascended into heaven, He sat at the right hand of God and was given authority over all. 

“The basic meaning of the word kingdom in the Bible is God’s kingly rule — his reign, his action, his lordship, his sovereign governance.” “What is the Kingdom of God,” Desiring God. 

The coming of the kingdom is Good News. We become a living, active part of God’s kingdom when we accept Jesus into our hearts and repent. As believers, we will live eternally under the perfect rule and reign of Jesus when He comes again. When we pray to God we are talking with our creator and seeking His rule and reign in our lives. That means letting Him take control of our lives.

When people make the kingdom of God their primary object of desire, they find the ability to trust Him to provide all their needs. So how do we push beyond our own plans to build a kingdom for ourselves and instead pursue the kingdom work God calls us to?

Building the Kingdom of God on Earth 

We can easily move from serving God to meeting our own needs for love, significance, and security. It quickly turns into a self-focused life. Seeking love and approval are not in and of themselves sinful, we were made to crave community. But it becomes sinful and harmful when we start seeking it from the wrong sources. Craving human gain and approval is futile. Earthly empires rust and turn to dust. Nothing you build for your glory will stand. 

Building the kingdom of God always includes God at the very center. We are called to help partner in building the kingdom of God on earth.  We are called daily to surrender. We are called to not conform but stand firm in our walk of faith and point others to Jesus. The kingdom of God is rooted in love and the desire to bring others closer to Him. Seek to fulfill what God has for you. In everything, you do glorify God. 

Giving Glory to God

We often lose sight of God’s plan when we are so wrapped up in fulfilling our selfish desires and needs. We don’t want to alter our plans and surrender control, not even for God’s plan. It’s hard for us to lay down our own will and wholeheartedly follow God. When we lose focus on serving God’s kingdom we get caught up in building our own kingdoms. It becomes about us wanting to have authority and power over God. We want to take all the glory for ourselves instead of giving glory to God.  

Only in Jesus will we find true satisfaction. Only with Jesus will our hearts experience pure joy. Only when we seek Jesus – and live for God, not man -will we be free from the bondage of striving for approval from man. He will open our eyes to see the glory of God. When Christ reigns supreme in our lives, we will no longer feel the pressure to build our own kingdoms. We will begin to strive to show the worth of God through Christ, not self. We should use whatever influence we have for the good of our neighbor and the glory of God. 

God is relentless in His pursuit of His children and will use anyone – even those who are still clinging to their own kingdoms – to aid in accomplishing His mission to bring the Gospel to the far reaches of the earth. If there is a desire on your heart, bring it before God in submission and ask Him to reveal to you His will for your life. Ask Him to help you seek His kingdom in your mind, heart, and life.

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