There is a lot of theological discussion surrounding the nature of God’s kingdom on earth. The conversation necessarily involves topics such as church membership, eschatology and the role of civil government. Because of this, it is many times robust and accompanied by strong sentiment and passionate defense of doctrinal positions. This is healthy.
There is something else that is healthy. It is the continued awareness of our own kingdom-building efforts; not God’s kingdom, but our own. In a world where flattery is ubiquitous and genuine apologies are scarce, we must remain on our guard. We must also remain guarded by capable under-shepherds. This will help, as things are not always what they seem. I explain as much in an excerpt below written quite a while back but never posted. It is short, but could perhaps be of benefit to some.
C.S. Lewis profoundly asserts that, “you cannot see things until you know roughly what they are.”
I have seen self-absorption at close range. It has the same outline and shadow as when seen at a distance, but a close-up reveals its contours, hues and patterns are much different than I expected. It’s clothes and make-up give the impression of nobility, selflessness and a humble spirit. Yet, beyond the mask lies an almost casual unwillingness to repent. General admission of human infraction is optional, but admission of sincere moral trespass is off-limits.
It is a realm where flattery is greeted with a handshake and sometimes with desperate embrace. On the same ground where it stands, the truth-teller is consciously or unconsciously eradicated.
This is the kingdom of one. It is where self is king, outwardly clamoring for subjects and dominion, but in the end reigning over nothing and no one, not even its own impulses. This seems to be roughly what self-absorption is – not the shallow caricature that appears as vain conceit, but more the deep fatal affliction of our sin nature.
Perhaps it is witnessed in closest proximity within my own self. Lord, grant me a steadfast posture of welcome for the truth-teller. In your grace, please provide a continued willingness to repent and present the sacrifices of “a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.”