Many moons ago, before I became a pastor, I was asked to preach at a church located several miles from my home. When I got back from that responsibility, I spoke with my pastor about it. During the conversation, he made an interesting observation. He said to me, “That guy is building his own little kingdom over there.” The “guy” to whom he was referring, was the pastor of the congregation to which I spoke.
That was almost forty years ago. I’ve forgotten the rest of the conversation with my pastor that day, but I’ll never forget that line.
There is always a great temptation to do just that—to build our own little kingdom. It not only falls to pastors, but it’s a lure in many walks of life. Let’s be truthful here. There are many benefits to having one’s own kingdom.
“We want to call the shots…”
One thing that stands out is control. Who among us doesn’t like to be in control? Sometimes we say we don’t, and maybe in certain circumstances we like to hand the reins over to others. Yet the fact remains, in most instances, we want to be in control. We want to call the shots and have things go our way.
Another perk of having one’s own kingdom is a lack of accountability. If the kingdom is truly ours, we don’t have to answer to anyone. We have no equals, so the old “jury of peers” doesn’t come into play. It’s a dangerous position to be in. As the old saying goes, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Building our own kingdom is an invitation to disaster.
“This world is not my home…” ~Larry Norman~
Every Christian (according to Scripture) is a citizen of Heaven. Conversely, this earth is not our home. We’re just passing through. Still, we seem bent on amassing whatever we can as we traverse this life. This is in direct contradiction to the old truth we know from time immemorial—“You can’t take it with you.”
Jesus, himself, set the standard for earthly power when he told Pilot, “My Kingdom is not of this world!” If Jesus was not interested in setting up an earthly kingdom, why in the world should we?
A while back, a friend of mine published a devotional on this very subject. He said the following: “If Jesus had been interested in geopolitics, he would have taken over Israel. Calvary would have remained a nondescript hill on the edge of Jerusalem. I’m not sure what would have happened next, but no blood sacrifice = no forgiveness = no salvation. If his Kingdom had been of this world, things would be a lot different. We would be bowing and scraping and attempting to earn the King’s favor.” (Don Hunter–Awakening Alliance Church, Ridgway, PA)
As you know, we don’t have to earn the favor of King Jesus. His grace is sufficient, and his forgiveness secures a place for us in his heart.
A man’s home might be his castle, but the drawbridge is really insecure. Don’t count on the fleeting things of this world to get you through.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]