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Hearing God 8: The Kingdom of God

May 15, 2013

Hearing God by Dallas Willard“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”  (Matthew 6:33; NLT)

In the most recent session of Hearing God, Dallas Willard and John Ortberg discussed the importance of sleep to the kind of life in which we learn to hear God. But then the discussion turns to the Kingdom of God, and the passage quoted above. It is a well-known passage, but perhaps not discussed and unpacked quite as often as it should be. We know that we are supposed to seek the Kingdom of God – but what exactly does that mean? What does it look like?

To start with, we need to understand what Jesus is referring to when he speaks of the Kingdom of God – that way we’ll know what we are supposed to be seeking in the first place. Often when we think of the Kingdom of God, we think (rightly so) of heaven, Jesus’ second coming, and eternity – those things must be what Jesus is talking about, right? And they are – but this view of the Kingdom of God as a future reality misses something very important. Consider these words from Jesus:

“But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you.”  (Matthew 12:28; NLT)

“The Kingdom of God has arrived among you.” It doesn’t sound very “future-ish,” does it? This passage (and others like it in the gospels) help us understand something very important about the Kingdom of God: it is not just a future reality. It is present right now. The Kingdom of God is a present reality – it is the reality in which God has his say. In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10) – we pray this prayer because we understand that heaven is the place where God’s will is always done. On earth, God has chosen to allow us free will, and Satan still has influence – but God is still at work, primarily (though not exclusively) through the Holy Spirit and through his people. You and I can be a part of the Kingdom of God right now – we are a part of the Kingdom of God every time we choose to live as if God is king.

So what does it mean to seek the Kingdom of God? Willard suggests that it simply means to seek what God is doing in the world. Seeking the Kingdom means that I am looking – actively looking, all the time, everywhere I can – to see where God is active in the world, and then considering how I can be a part of God’s work.

What does all this have to do with hearing God? We hear God within the context of a certain kind of life – a life lived in the Kingdom of God. As I seek to place myself more and more within God’s will, and seek his action in the world – striving to be a part of what he is doing – I am better able to hear when he is speaking to me. And the reverse is true as well. The more I learn to hear God when he speaks to me – by paying attention to the 3 factors that help us recognize his voice, and by experience – the easier it is for me to live within the Kingdom of God.

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