EDITOR’S NOTE: This book excerpt is from You Misspelled Christian: How to Bring Heaven to Your Current Circumstances By Rob Shepherd
When I don’t get my way, I freak. When someone takes something that is mine, I freak. When someone doesn’t agree with me, I freak. As adults we tend to freak out about being left out, not getting what is fair, or not getting our way. It’s easy to view others as idiots when they don’t do what you want them to do. The problem is the people who are idiots in our lives are the very people Jesus wants us to love.
I’m not immune to calling someone an idiot. I can get so fiery passionate about my point that I quickly think, “If you disagree with me you are a card-carrying idiot.”
Our way of thinking is a part of the kingdom we’ve built. And when someone disagrees it’s easy for me to pull out the idiot card. You see, it’s not a matter of if we are building our kingdom. It’s a matter of if we realize in what ways we are building a kingdom of “me.”
So how do you know if you are building your kingdom and asking God to be a part of it? It’s not an easy thing to see. I believe there are a few questions we need to ask to see whose kingdom we are building.
10 Signs That Point to Whose Kingdom You Are Building:
- Are you easily offended by those who disagree with you? If you take disagreements personally, it’s a sign you view your opinions as a part of who you are. It’s your world and everyone else just lives in it.
- Do you have any friends who do not think/look just like you? People who do not look like you can make you feel uncomfortable. Your kingdom is about what makes you feel comfortable. It’s about what is easy. It’s about who will serve you. If people who disagree with you don’t have a seat at your table, then all signs point to building a kingdom about you.
- Do you hold grudges? It’s impossible to overcome a grudge when all you are thinking about is yourself. When we think about ourselves, offenses become magnified and the thought of forgiving seems like an impossible task. When building Jesus’ kingdom, forgiveness is a way of life. That doesn’t mean you don’t get hurt or that it’s easy. It’s just easier.
- Do you have relationships with others who do not benefit you directly? When it is your kingdom, people are to be used. If someone doesn’t benefit you then you do not have time for them. Think about that friend/family member/church member who has wandered from God. When someone leaves the faith, it should break our hearts. Jesus, the great Shepherd, leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one. When it’s about your kingdom, the offense is paid if anyone leaves. It’s a personal rejection instead of a heartbreak.
- Is it easy to become prideful when you succeed? As humans it’s easy to magnify our successes and minimize our failures. In God’s kingdom we understand that success and failure look different. If I fail, it’s simply a lesson to learn and not the end of the world. If I succeed, it is because of the grace of God. I play a part in the story, but I am not the story.
- Can you move past your failures? You are in charge of the kingdom, so your mistakes are magnified. When you mess up it’s a gigantor deal. It’s of epic proportions. When the kingdom is all about you, God’s grace seems like a fairy tale. It’s too hard to grasp because we magnify our mistakes.
- Do you spend lots of time worrying about temporary things? When it’s your kingdom you do whatever you can to hold on to your stuff. It’s yours. When something breaks it’s a big deal. When you lose something it’s monumental. Temporary things should be thought about but not obsessed about. There is nothing wrong with having stuff, unless your stuff has you.
- Is it difficult to ask for help? The king or queen of the kingdom doesn’t seek help. That would be too humiliating. You can overcome any situation. Even though you haven’t, you will. One day. It would just be too embarrassing to seek help.
- What are you addicted to? The average American has $7,000 in credit card debt.Why? Because we have to have what we want now. We deserve it. Addictions are simply obsessions with ourselves. Whether it’s porn, food, alcohol, or some other addiction, at the end of the day it screams we are more concerned with our temporary happiness than an eternal reward.
- Do you primarily pray when you need something? The main time that you think about God is when you need something. When your world falls apart. When you need him to come through. When life is good God takes a back seat. Why? Because you are in charge. This is your kingdom.
Jesus says “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20b–21) This phrase “the kingdom of God is in your midst” has been debated by lots of people. I think Jesus meant his kingdom is not going to look like other kingdoms. The kingdom that Jesus ushered in said things like “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” It said things like “love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.” It said things like “I do not condemn you.” Jesus’ kingdom wouldn’t look like other kingdoms. It isn’t a kingdom built with stone. It’s a movement that cannot be contained by walls. It’s not something that is just for one type of person. It’s for anyone. And here’s the crazy thing about Jesus’ kingdom. You don’t go to it. It comes to you. And you can take it everywhere you go.
Rob Shepherd is the founding and lead pastor of Next Level Church in Yorktown, VA.