Living in the Kingdom of God: Reflections on Going Deeper, Session 1
Do you live in the kingdom of God now, as His beloved son or daughter? Deacon Ralph Poyo urged us to consider this question during the first session of our “Going Deeper” series (June 10, 2021). This question has always been pivotal to the life of every Christian; however, it may even be more urgent to consider in light of the current landscape.
Deacon Ralph pointed out that the current landscape or “signs of the times” include political confusion, dubious medical information, and a Western culture that treats “science” as its god. This total blindness to the Gospel and the truth about God is described by St. Paul in 2 Cor 4:3-4: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Satan has blinded so many in our world that when we try to live the Gospel, we will have to “fight against the current,” and we will look crazy to people.
In this environment, if we do not cry out to Christ for help we will stop “fighting against the current” and start “floating with the current,” as Deacon Ralph put it. Floating with the current, of course, is not what we want. God has much better plans for us: “For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him” (1 Thes 5:9-10). Deacon Ralph explains that “awake” means alive and “asleep” means after death; God wants us to live in His love, in His kingdom, in His will now, while we are awake in this world. What does this look like?
To answer this question, Deacon Ralph took us step by step through Ephesians 5:1-8:
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—
Deacon Ralph pointed out that a great battle ground in our lives is our identity. In order to live in His Kingdom, we must live as “beloved children” (Eph 5:1). Jesus is first and foremost the son of God. We are called to live in Jesus as sons and daughters of the Father. Deacon Ralph encouraged us to ask the Holy Spirit to show us which parts of our hearts and our actions are still in darkness: Where do I seek happiness apart from God? What prevents me from living as His son/daughter? Do I receive His love or do I live the lie that I am not lovable? When the Holy Spirit reveals these areas to us, we can simply cry out to God for healing and help in those particular areas.
One thing that struck me during Deacon Ralph’s message was the repeated theme of crying out to God. It is comforting to think that when we recognize the darkness in our lives, we do not have to do anything more than what a little baby knows how to do instinctually: Cry out to our Father. We do not need to fix ourselves when we compare our lives to the word of God and realize we don’t/can’t measure up. Indeed, we cannot fix ourselves by our own strength (see John 15:5). When we cry out to Him though, we are placing our trust in the only One who can heal us, in the One who is the Light of the world and longs to bring us out of darkness and into His light. And when one of His little ones cries out to Him, the Father always answers, providing fully for every detail in the life He calls us to live.
Please join us for the next session of “Going Deeper” on Thursday, July 8. The evening (via Zoom) will include praise and worship led by David and Christine Imler and a talk by Deacon Ralph about living as children of the Light.
By Clare Schiller