On Earth as It is in Heaven #2:
The Kingdom of God Expressed Inwardly

By | 4 Jan 2024
On earth as it is in heaven graphic

on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven memeAs we’ve already covered in the opening article in this series, Jesus commanded us to pray for God’s Kingdom to be reestablished in this earth.

Conveniently enough, He immediately provided a practical yardstick we can use to measure how much of that reign actually exists: wherever God’s will is being done on earth in the same manner and to the same degree as His will is already being done in heaven.

Why is this important? Because we cannot honestly claim a heavenly reality which cannot be measured here on Planet Earth. And where does “God’s will being done here on earth” in that manner start, pray tell?

You guessed it! With us!

Jesus Himself said it:

Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is within you.Luke 17:20-21 (emphasis mine)

In His remarks here, Jesus was pointing the Pharisees to a crucial fact: the Kingdom of God is not a polity which can be observed through the existence of an earthly king who enforces his political boundaries by force of arms, the very kind of kingdom they fully expected — and were even demanding — from God. Rather, it is a spiritual kingdom located in the hearts of those who will lovingly submit to King Jesus and die to their own selfish desires/ambitions so they can follow Him.

So if we are indeed responsible for doing God’s will on the earth the same way it’s being done in heaven, we now need to take a long, hard look at how His will is actually being carried out there so we’ll know how well we’re performing against that standard. Simply saying, “Well, the angels just do what they’re told!” is too intangible, too slippery to be of any practical value. It’s kinda like a New Years resolution to lose weight — it’s only when you start getting specific about how many pounds are to be lost within a certain timeframe that it gains the traction required for success.

The following thought exercise will help us zoom in on those specifics. Please take note: this list has far more to do with the quality of the angels’ obedience than with them merely doing what they’re told.

When God commands His angels to do something:

  • How rapidly do they respond?
  • Instantly.
  • How thoroughly do they carry out His instructions?
  • Completely.
  • How accurately do they perform what is commanded of them?
  • Precisely.
  • How often is He obeyed?
  • Always.
  • With what attitude do the angels respond?
  • Enthusiastically.
  • Does God have to cajole, persuade or argue with them to obtain their obedience?
  • Never.

So here’s our complete definition of the Kindgom of God here on earth:

The Kingdom of God is fully expressed in the hearts of those humans who perform His will on earth instantly, thoroughly, precisely, constantly, enthusiastically, and without argument or resistance.

Now let’s incorporate one final verse from Matthew 6 pertinent to this discussion :

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.Matthew 6:33 (emphasis mine)

Let’s unpack some of the Greek words Jesus used here:

seek (zeteo)
‭‭1) to seek in order to find‭
‭‭ a) to seek a thing‭
‭‭ b) to seek [in order to find out] by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into‭
‭‭ c) to seek after, seek for, aim at, strive after‭
2) to seek i.e. require, demand‭, to crave, demand something from someone‭
first (proton)
first in time or place‭ in any succession of things or persons‭
kingdom (basileia)
  1. royal power, kingship, dominion, rule‭; not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom‭

When you dig deeper into the nuances of these definitions, you end up with a translation which sounds a lot like this:

As your #1 priority — drop everything else and do this first! — inquire into, crave, and strive after God’s reign over your life, settling for nothing less, and live righteously. Then He will give you everything you need.Matthew 6:33 Willis Expanded Translation

We can now complete our synthesis of these two texts with this:

As our #1 priority — drop everything else and do this first! — inquire into, crave, and strive after doing God’s will on earth instantly, thoroughly, precisely, constantly, enthusiastically, and without argument or resistance, settling for nothing less.

Now there’s our yardstick! Now can we as Christ-followers ever do this perfectly?

Not a chance!

All we can do is aspire to it by allowing God’s Word to change us by His grace into looking, acting, and reacting progressively more and more like Jesus, the only human Who ever walked this planet Who perfectly obeyed our Heavenly Father instantly, thoroughly, precisely, constantly, enthusiastically, and without argument or resistance.

The $10 theological word for that process is “sanctification.”

So this isn’t about us enforcing God’s kingdom onto others — remember, no theocracies allowed! — but about His rule over us. Whenever we pray for God’s reign to come to this earth, we are in fact submitting ourselves to His lordship and asking for it to extend from ourselves to others as we obey Him.

This is no “add-water-and-stir” process. The kind of pressing into the Person of our Heavenly Father invites us to is the antithesis of our American post-modern, instant-gratification, microwave-for-2-minutes, drive-thru mentality. It requires time pressing into His presence and voice through His Word, His Body, worship, and prayer.

It also means dispensing with the notion that God’s promises are like a cookbook where we add this and that ingredient, perform certain tasks in a certain order, and voilá! we have the answers to our prayers. Truth be told, such a mentality smacks of sorcery and witchcraft where humans are trying to manipulate the supernatural in order to bring about their selfish desires.

As C. S. Lewis repeatedly stated in his Chronicles of Narnia series, “He is not a tame lion” who bends to our will on demand. He is Lord — and we’re not! Instead, we are to bend to His will, trusting He is always good, always loving, always merciful, always gracious, always generous, always kind, regardless of what we perceive from the circumstances we experience using our limited senses and intellects.

Such a pursuit demands a no-holds-barred, all-in, cost-be-damned, complete abandonment of our desires, goals, preferences, and personal dignity, placing all that on His altar, echoing the words of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane:

“…no matter what it costs Me, Your will must be Mine.”
Luke 22:42b Willis Expanded Version

Now that we’ve established what His Kingdom looks like internally, how do we extend that to others? Funny you should ask; I’m about to tell you!

On to the final installment in this series: The Kingdom of God Externally

Thanks for reading!