“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking [what one likes], but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For the one who serves Christ in this way [recognizing that food choice is secondary] is acceptable to God and is approved by men. So then, let us pursue [with enthusiasm] the things which make for peace and the building up of one another [things which lead to spiritual growth]. Do not, for the sake of food, tear down the work of God. All things indeed are [ceremonially] clean, but they are wrong for the person who eats and offends [another’s conscience in the process]”ROMANS 14:17-20 The Amplified Bible (AMP)
The Kingdom of God is not….
What an interesting way to describe the Kingdom of God, by first stating what it is not. This becomes necessary particularly in situations where there are some misconceptions about an issue or topic. As we see the Apostle Paul address in Rom 14, there seems to be a dispute over food. Whether it is okay to eat certain kinds of meat or not or about holy days. Rom 14:1
We are so quick to fight and quarrel over minor issues, to criticize and judge one another seems to come to us quite naturally. V.3-4.
Some may have come to a point where the Kingdom of God for them is all about eating, drinking, and enjoyment, but from the above scripture we see that the Kingdom of God is much more than that. The Kingdom of God is not a matter of pleasure seeking and enjoyment, neither is it about selfish desires and personal ambition. All these only betray a superficial life and conduct.
Today, one is left to wonder at this twitter, facebook and Instagram generation that has become so obsessed with selfies and making an impression. For whom this scripture is quite instructive as the ability to differentiate between what is important and that which is not so important has never been more critical. A lot of the things that we expend our energy on are simply temporal. No wonder the bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:18 (AMPC) that “Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting”.
Everything that is visible is brief and fleeting, including cars, food, drinks, clothing, jewelry, houses etc., but those things that are unseen or invisible are everlasting.
The message is clear, the kingdom of God is not built on trivial matters and superficialities. We should not allow these to preoccupy us to the extent that they become a hindrance to our fellowship with God and one other.
In vs 1-16 of our main text above, Paul teaches us that regarding these matters we should live by the rules of love, acceptance, understanding, conscience and respect and consideration of one another’s faith, seeing that we will all give an account to God. …For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone v.7 for…each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. V 12.
Now that we have looked at what the Kingdom of God is not, let us consider what it is….
“…. but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…”
So, we see three essential attributes of the Kingdom of God here which should remain our focus and priority at all times just as we are instructed in Mathew 6:33 “But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also”
Hence, we are always to seek, aim at and strive after God’s way of doing and being right. Our priority always should be to show God’s attitude and Character to our World through our lifestyle.
The Kingdom of God is righteousness. What is righteousness? Righteousness is the quality of being morally right or justifiable before God. It is right standing with God and it is not by legalistic works but through the finished work of Christ as shown in Romans 4:20-25 (AMP)
“But he did not doubt or waver in unbelief concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and empowered by faith, giving glory to God, being fully convinced that God had the power to do what He had promised. Therefore, his faith was credited to him as righteousness (right standing with God). Now not for his sake alone was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also—to whom righteousness will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead—who was betrayed and crucified because of our sins, and was raised [from the dead] because of our justification [our acquittal—absolving us of all sin before God].
Philippians 3:9 says “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith”
And in Romans 10:10 we see that “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation”
Hence, it is faith in Christ that results in our righteousness. This righteousness should be manifested in our daily lives as Kingdom citizens even as God continually leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3).
As heirs and subjects of the kingdom, Righteousness must be our banner- insistence on doing the right thing. A Resolve to always act in conformity to the will and purpose of God in everything we do and in our relationships with our brethren and fellow men.
John puts it so clearly in I john 3 v 7-10 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
Righteousness is hallmark of the kingdom life. We can’t say we are in the Kingdom and meanwhile be practicing lawlessness.
This is the Peace that Christ alone gives. In John 14:27 (NIV) Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”
Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and His Peace which surpasses all understanding guards our heart and minds as we live the kingdom lifestyle (Phil 4:7).
It is so sad when we see conflict and dissension in the church. This is a misnomer. We are called to peace and to live in peace with all men.
The Bible says follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord…Heb 12:14.
Two women were having issues in the Church in Philippi which was not right. It was contrary to the kingdom lifestyle. Paul wrote concerning them ‘Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement’. Phil 4:2
As Kingdom citizens there should be no quarrel and strife amongst us, it should be unheard of that we have irreconcilable issues, and worse off that we even approach a worldly court to help resolve our disputes.
We are called to peace and unity. We are urged to put on Christs’ humble mind and disposition if we are to live in peace with one another. Phil 2:1-11.
Joy in the Holy Ghost
Another attribute of the Kingdom Lifestyle is Joy. 1 Pet 3:8 (NCV) says “You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You cannot see him now, but you believe in him. So you are filled with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy full of glory”
…Joy that cannot be explained. This is the Joy that is not dependent on situation or circumstances. It is simply an attribute of the Kingdom Lifestyle.
When we walk in righteousness, in fellowship and peace with all men, we experience the overwhelming joy of the Holy Ghost. This joy is one that we can never get from the world. It springs from the depth of the Spirit and it gives us strength to overcome the challenges that are in this world.
We see the manifestation of this kingdom lifestyle in the early church…. So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. Acts 2:41-47
We should pray for this experience of Joy in the Holy Ghost in our midst. We should remove anything in and around our lives that hinders us from enjoying the overwhelming joy of the kingdom.
In conclusion, the Kingdom Lifestyle is the culture in God’s Kingdom. It is the nature of God which is expected to be reflected in the life of all citizens of His Kingdom just as Citizens of every earthly Kingdom have some unique attributes through which they can easily be identified, in the same manner as Citizens of the God’s Kingdom, a Lifestyle of Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost is our unique identifier.
May God help us to be good ambassadors of His Kingdom here on earth in Jesus Name.