I live in Philadelphia, and a few miles outside the city limits is the King of Prussia Mall. This complex contains more dedicated retail space than any other shopping mall in the United States!
A few years ago, the mall had a marketing slogan: “Your Kingdom Awaits.”
Whoever came up with the phrase was a brilliant theologian and deeply understood the condition of the human heart.
Since the beginning of time, the lie of the Enemy has been this: ultimate joy and satisfaction is found when you build your own kingdom.
In the Garden, Adam and Eve believed that they were able to build a greater and more satisfying kingdom than the Kingdom of God.
When the Serpent said, “You will be like God” (Genesis 3:5), he was inviting them to a false existence where they could be most high and rule unchallenged.
Every day, just like with that mall slogan, you and I are invited to build our own kingdom. But we can’t blame the retailers and advertising agencies. It’s only ever first because of the sin inside of us that we are attracted to the evil outside of us.
So where are we at risk of building our kingdoms in the situations, locations, and relationships of everyday life?
- Pleasure and Comfort: In Numbers, the Israelites were willing to sacrifice their freedom for slavery, because in Egypt, they at least had “meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic” (11:5).I love how much of the glory of God in creation is edible, and it’s not sinful to enjoy comfort. But beware. Chasing momentary, physical pleasure in an attempt to build our own kingdom will always lead to slavery and bondage.
I love how much of the glory of God in creation is edible, and it’s not sinful to enjoy comfort. But beware. Chasing momentary, physical pleasure in an attempt to build our own kingdom will always lead to slavery and bondage.
- Schedule and Organization: In Exodus, the Israelites built a golden calf in an act of heinous idolatry. Why? One of the reasons was because “Moses delayed to come down from the mountain” (32:1).
I’m a very task-oriented person, and organization and time management is important in God’s Kingdom. But beware. Allowing the schedule of our lives to become a dominating idol can lead to foolish acts of worship.
- Position and Power: In Luke, Jesus is sitting with his discples and instituting the New Covenant. What could be more significant than this moment? Yet “a dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest” (22:24).
God wisely created structures of leadership and has gifted people in different ways. But beware. Our status can rise to such a level of selfish significance that we’re blind to beautiful Kingdom of God moments.
- Affirmation and Approval: In Galatians, Paul recounts the story of when Peter allowed his fear of man (2:12) to alter the message of gospel, which he was called to be a spokesperson for.
We should strive to be respected and loved by others. But beware. Our concern over what others think of us can quickly shape our actions and words more so than the transcendent glories of the gospel.
Let me say it again: pleasure, comfort, schedule, organization, position, power, affirmation, and approval are not unimportant in the Kingdom of God.
But beware. All too often, these things can become the driving motivation in our lives, and the foundation on which we build our own personal kingdoms.
Today, let’s pray and ask for protection: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Extra: Thomas a Kempis made this the first part of his daily worship, using the prayer of submission: “As thou wilt; what thou wilt; when thou wilt.”
- Kent Hughes. Disciplines of a Godly Man (Paperback Edition) (p. 93). Kindle Edition.