When Jesus began his ministry, it was with a call to repent because the Kingdom of God was at hand.  But what does it mean to be part of the Kingdom of God?  Since we live in America where we do not have a monarchy, it can be difficult to think about kings and submission to ultimate authority.  We have a individualistic mentality that wants to put ultimate trust in ourselves, our own efforts, our own goodness.

The truth of the matter, though, is that we pledge our allegiance to one kingdom or another whether we realize it or not.  Each one of us has a worldview that shapes who we become and what we do daily, and that worldview is either shaped by God or by the surrounding society in which we live.

One kingdom places a premium on wealth, power, position, and beauty.  This kingdom encourages us to put our own self-interests above the interests of others, but the truth of the matter is that in supposedly putting our self-interests above others we are actually serving the interests of this worldly kingdom and its values.  However, this kingdom is at its heart corrupt and temporary.  All of these things will pass away because they have no lasting and ultimate meaning.  The temptation is that if we are not careful we can get caught up in the pursuit of these things, and whether or not we actually achieve any of these things is secondary because we have centered our lives on the pursuit of them by doing, saying, and thinking about what is necessary to achieve what the world tells us is valuable and important. Think for a moment of the people we honor and lift up in this society.  They are almost the exact opposite of the people and the attitudes Jesus describes as important.

The Kingdom of God, in contrast to the kingdom of the world, places a premium on love, servanthood, and the highest good of all people.  The Kingdom of God looks not at just what is best for each one of us but what is also best for those around us.  The Kingdom of God is exemplified in the Beatitudes where Jesus pronounces a blessing upon those who are humble, who care about the state of the world, who fervently seek God’s righteousness, who are caring and gentle, who are merciful, who seek to live in peace with one another, and who are willing to remain faithful even when it may cost them something.

One kingdom benefits the individual while the other Kingdom benefits both the individual and those around us.  One kingdom presumably lifts up the self but in actuality enslaves the soul while the other Kingdom lifts up God and results in true freedom of the soul.  One kingdom places a premium upon what is temporary while the other puts a premium on what is eternal.

What do your words, actions, thoughts, and attitudes of the heart say about which kingdom has YOUR allegiance?