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Preparing for Our Mission, Part 3

Promoted to Royalty

Your world is at war. You were born into a world of chaos and destruction, pain, and division that so often typifies war. And as with all wars, you are expected to choose which side in this war you will support. Revelation 12:7-9 tells us how the war began…

7And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8But he (the dragon) was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth and his angels with him” (New International Version).

For most of us, it is in our nature to avoid conflict if at all possible. We despise conflict, particularly the intense conflict war brings. However, the reality is that you and I were indeed born into a world at war. This war has been raging since before the creation of the world. It is a war in which you and I, if we are not careful, may feel like mere pawns, weak and disposable, in an epic game of chess. However, while chess pawns have limited fighting power, their real power is in their ability to get to the opponent’s far side of the board (the back rank) and be promoted into a noble and more powerful player in the game such as a Queen or Knight. Satan would deceive us to believe that we are mere pawns, weak and disposable, in this epic game; that we cannot really make a difference in this world. Yet while this was once true of all of us, we are no longer weak and defenseless. Through our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…that God took on flesh and became in every way like one of us: tempted, tormented, rejected, yet sinless and victorious over death, hell, and the grave; and through our public confession that we are sinful and in need of his forgiveness, that he is Lord over all, especially Lord and Master of our lives…we also, through faith in Christ, are now victorious having been promoted through Christ from mere pawns to royalty possessing the very same authority and power that belongs to Christ within his Kingdom.

Romans 8:17 states: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Yet while our status as royal co-heirs with Christ is a reality, we likely do not yet understand how to live as royalty, or rightly wield the weapons that those who are Spiritual Royalty are given by the Holy Spirit to use in this epic warfare. When a biblical pawn is promoted to royalty, through faith in Christ, the new “Royal” must be trained and equipped to effectively apply their royal status, authority, and expanded powers so that they may eventually make a real difference in this fallen world. The Bible refers to this training process as “disciple-making”.

The word “disciple” comes from the same root we use for “discipline”. This is not the kind of negative discipline we commonly understand as punishment. This is the kind of discipline an athlete uses to become proficient at their “discipline”.  Look at how the Bible refers to our training process:

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV) “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

As new royalty in Christ, our “strict training” will involve preparation in three distinct developmental areas as outlined in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6:

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NIV) “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 1) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we 2) take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will 3) be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

I have underlined specific phrases because it is important that we do not miss their meaning. According to this passage our “strict training” involves three areas of discipline development:

  1. As the Holy Spirit leads us, we remove everything from our lives that would keep us from loving our Lord (i.e., we nurture our relationship with God).
  2. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we “take captive every thought” by submitting it to God (i.e., we transform our inner thought life)
  3. In the righteousness we have in Christ, we demonstrate our love for God through our obedience to his commands (i.e., we surrender our will/control).

This tri-part “strict training” (Relationship, Thought Life, & Will/Control) is required of every pawn who through faith in Christ has been promoted to royalty. This training is a life-long process of learning to surrender self to the transformational work of the Holy Spirit. Please note the respective roles in this training process: We surrender ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit does the work to transform us, teaching us to surrender self in the areas of relationship, thought life, and will.

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Preparing for Mission, Part 2

Getting Childish

 

Isaiah 11:6 (New International Version)

“The wolf will live with the lamb,

the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling together;

and a little child will lead them.”

 

See Yourself as Childish:

Isaiah 11:6 envisions a future time when Christ’s Kingdom is made complete. Scholars don’t know for sure when or where this prophesied event will take place, only that at that time God’s shalom (Hebrew: “peace”) will reign throughout his Kingdom…and through God’s shalom, a little child will be able to lead both vicious and gentle creatures alike. And what is more, you and I are among the “little children” whom God will enable to lead both the vicious and the gentle of this world to share in Christ’s Kingdom. The “Child” image is very important in Scripture, so much so that Jesus asserts that it is impossible to enter into Christ’s Kingdom unless we become like little children. In Mathew 18 Jesus says:

Matthew 18:3 (New International Version)

“And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become

like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

What is it about little children that Jesus values so much? Certainly, children are far more innocent than adults, and Jesus may be challenging all people to become more innocent. But I think Jesus’ challenge goes much deeper. I believe Jesus is challenging adults to see themselves in this fallen world in the same manner as children innately perceive themselves as demonstrated through their imagination.

Children seem to share a remarkable and common understanding that God created them to participate in an epic story as a prince or princess within God’s Kingdom.  Reflect back on when you were a child. If you were a girl, did you ever pretend to be a beautiful princess or some other idealized character? Or, if you were a boy, did you pretend to be some kind of victorious prince, knight or super-hero? When I was a boy in the 1960’s, I played-out the prince-role pretending to be a cowboy or playing cops and robbers. Later generations of children, influenced by the Star Wars movies, could often be seen pretending to be Jedi Knights. Children have an innate perception that their lives exist within an epic story of good versus evil. As adults, many of us identify with the characters portrayed in epic stories conveyed in the books we read and the movies we view. My favorite movie is “Lord of the Rings”. I cannot imagine a better portrayal of a good-verses-evil epic story…except one…the Biblical epic. As I watched Lord of the Rings for the first time, I found myself passionately identifying with the Hobbit Frodo on his mission to carry the Ring of Power back to the fiery pit from where it had been made, so that it and its evil might finally be destroyed. I could not help but ask myself, “What did the ring represent in my life…my mission…that I would be willing to live, suffer, and die for it?” For me, epic stories like Lord of the Rings enables me to reenter the world of my childhood and once again see myself as I once did, as my Heavenly Father sees me now…that I am a royal prince on an epic mission quest.

But, sadly, as we grow from childhood to maturity, we become “reasonable” and “responsible” and set aside our childish self-image as a prince or princess who serves victoriously within an epic event that overcomes evil. Adults become accountants, businessmen, factory workers, husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers. And as responsible adults we justify to ourselves: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (1 Corinthians 13:11)As we put childish ways behind us, we all too often satisfy ourselves with making a living rather than living to make a difference. God does want us to make a living and to provide for ourselves and our families. But he also desires for us to make a difference in this world, so much so that Jesus brashly re-defined our priorities…

Luke 14:26 (New International Version)

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” 

This passage is not telling us to “hate” our families, rather this is an Aramaic colloquialism intended to challenge our priorities to the core of our being. Simply put, Jesus is telling us that no one and nothing can come before our Kingdom service and loyalty to Jesus Christ. To hold any family member or even our own lives as a value above the things of Christ is a form of idolatry. God simply will not allow us to have any other gods before him (Exodus 20:3). So we are called to become like little children who are reborn into his Kingdom, adopted as co-heirs with Christ, raised to maturity in Christ so that we may serve our King as royal warriors, fighting a universal spiritual battle to establish Christ’s rule and authority within an ever-expanding Kingdom of God’s grace and mercy.

Let’s take a few minutes and review what the Bible has to say about our royal status and position in this world. Please read the following Bible passages, and summarize/personalize each passage in your own words, noting what the passage says about your status and function as a prince or princess called to promote Christ’s Kingdom in this fallen world.

 

Conclusion: Summarize and Personalize the Following Passages…

1 Peter 2:9 (New International Version)

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Example:

I am a chosen person, to serve as part of Christ’s royal priesthood within His holy nation, and I belong to God so that I may declare the praises of Him who called me out of the darkness and into His wonderful light“.

Summarize & Personalize:

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Ephesians 1:5 (New International Version)

5He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

Summarize & Personalize:

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Romans 8:35-37 (New International Version)

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake, we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Summarize & Personalize:

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