The Kingdom of God is Within You
When Adam and Eve fell, there was serious harm done to the material universe. It was cursed with thorns, pain, and death. But the greatest damage of all was done inside human beings. They had wanted independence from God, and they got it. Their hearts, which once had been brimming with trust and love and submission, were now overflowing with pride and fear and alienation. If we want to return to the Eden-life of walking with God, it is this inner damage that first must be undone.
The ekklesia is an inner Kingdom:
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
In the ekklesia, the curse is reversed. It is a realm men enter only when they renounce their independence from God and acknowledge their deep, deep need of Him. Instead of compartmentalizing their lives into the “sacred” and the “secular,” they bring all of life under His authority and blessing. Instead of vainly trying to meet with God in a temple made of stone, they meet with Him in a dwelling made of submitted human lives. In the ekklesia, men and women “unmake” the horrible decision that Adam and Eve made in the Garden, and which truthfully we have each made in our own lives. In the ekklesia, people go back to the fork in the road, but this time they choose the road less traveled by.
There was a time when people didn’t “get religion” by repeating a rote prayer or mentally agreeing to a set of principles. “Conversion” was viewed as changing kingdoms. It was renouncing one set of loyalties and embracing another. It was being “buried with Christ” in His death and “raised to live a new life” in His resurrection. It meant being a different person, a new creation.
Has that experience been yours? Have you been cut to the heart when you learned that God made “this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ”? Have you rejected the old way of being in control of your own time, money, relationships, and priorities? Have you placed all of those things under Jesus’ control? Have you entered into a relationship of loving trust with Him, so that when you do disappoint Him, the first thing you want to do is run back to Him and lose your life in Him again?
If that hasn’t been your life, it can be now!
That is the only way you can “walk with God in the cool of the day.” The experience Adam and Eve enjoyed with their Creator in Eden, or that Peter and James and John and Mary Magdalene enjoyed with Jesus in Galilee, or that thousands of redeemed men and women experienced with Jesus and with one another in the early church, can be yours. But it can only happen if you personally reject the way of independence—reject even religious self-sufficiency—and return to the state of heart you were created for.
Any “church” that isn’t based on each member having Jesus rule in their hearts as King is not the ekklesia we read about in the New Testament. In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter if you have the most informal, friendliest, least traditional life-style of any religious assembly on earth. If the Kingdom of God isn’t within you, what you have isn’t the Kingdom of God.
So begin there. Imagine the ekklesia. Ask God for it. And position yourself to be a part of it by submitting your own heart to His reign. Then call others to do the same!
Just wanted to share these seeds with some few as the LORD leads.