When you typically think of your ‘happy place’, what does your mind automatically think of? For some, it could be a place of comfort and security from childhood, when the world didn’t seem as chaotic and stressed as it currently is. For others, their mind escapes to an unknown and faraway land, to be whisked away in a tropical paradise. And still, there are those who cherish simple memories of the past, where relaxation abounds leaving them rested in a state of pure bliss.
Despite all these delighted places you might be imagining right now, Disneyland has cleverly marketed itself to position the company to be your ‘happy place.’ That’s right, it’s true! So true in fact, that it is part of their slogan, “The happiest place on Earth.”
Believe it or not, I am at Disneyland today! I purposely delayed writing this week’s blog until I arrived here so I could sit before the Lord and ask what He would want me to say while at the same time, enjoying what so many people look forward to in their lifetime.
I started people watching and noticed a common pattern among many of those who venture to this land. People come prepared to enter Disneyland. I’m not suggesting bringing snacks and waters; they come ready for the experience of it. Families in droves are wearing various Mickey ears. Several are wearing Star Wars clothing and memorabilia (probably because of the new ride ‘Rise of the Resistance’). Other individuals wear specialized buttons signifying their birthday or their first time ever in the theme park. Whether a person has an annual pass or is visiting Disneyland as a first-time guest, there is a natural anticipation marked with a preparation to experience the ‘happiest place on Earth’ in all its fullness. Who doesn’t want to have the greatest time at the ‘Magic Kingdom?’
This got me thinking – if we are willing to go ‘all-out’ for one day in one place… how about for our lifetime? If so many people are enthusiastically passionately about ‘everything Disney,’ can that same affection be as intense for ‘everything God?’ What is it about the Magic Kingdom that can translate to the Lord’s Kingdom?
Thankfully, we have a lot the Bible speaks on when it comes to the Kingdom of God or Heaven. In fact, the Gospels mention the ‘Kingdom’ more than 80 times! It’s important to note that Jesus’ central theme was teaching and explaining the Kingdom of God. After John the Baptist announced for all to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near’ (Matthew 3:2), Jesus Himself began to preach this same message in His earthly ministry. Let’s look at a few of these Kingdom highlights for us this week.
- THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS FREE
We know we can enter the gates of the Magic Kingdom (typically by paying lots of money!), but how do we enter the Kingdom of God?
It’s easy and hey… it’s free!
“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” – John 3:3
The ticket to admission is believing that Jesus is your Lord and Savior. Having faith that Jesus died and rose again to conquer all sin and death is the entrance to the Kingdom of God. Plain and simple.
- THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS FAR… AND CLOSE
Now that ‘we’re in’, how do we get there?
That’s a tricky one! Jesus’ Kingdom is ‘not of this world’ (John 18:36) and He promised that He would come back in glory to establish His Kingdom as an eternal inheritance for His people (Matthew 25:31-34). As long as we are obedient in following the will of God, we will get to live in this Kingdom (Matthew 7:21). This represents a future territory ruled by Christ.
Yet there’s the present reality of the Kingdom of God – yes even now! Jesus mentioned to those who didn’t understand his authority and said,
“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” – Luke 11:20
When Pharisees asked about when the Kingdom was going to come, instead Jesus said,
“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 (within you).” – Luke 17:20
The Kingdom of God isn’t something that you wait for to come with an obvious sign – you take action because the Kingdom is inside you! As you walk in the Spirit and do what Jesus calls you to do, you minister from the Kingdom since the Holy Spirit reigns inside you. As citizens of the Kingdom (Philippians 3:20), we are to usher in the reign of Christ through our words and actions with the spiritual gifts He has given us.
Therefore, the ‘mystery of the Kingdom’ (see Matthew 13:31-34) is that it is partially here, but not in it’s finality. It’s as if Jesus has given us access with the authority of the Kingdom to bring others in the Kingdom as well. It’s like we are using our ‘perks’ to get people in… all for the glory of God!
- THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS FIRST
How easy is it to worry? It’s pretty difficult! In Matthew 6:25-32, Jesus teaches us to not worry –what one might eat, drink, or wear – that we are to trust God in the basic necessities of life. He knows that we need them, so how much more should we ask! Yet there’s more:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:33-34
Regardless of our lack and the anxiety that comes with that, we are to seek His Kingdom first. If we trust that He’s going to give all that we need anyway, why not demonstrate that trust by not trying to take matters into our own hands? His Kingdom and the character He wants us to have (righteousness) is what pleases God and ultimately, makes us happy.
There are so many verses on the Kingdom of God that you’ll have to do your own word study on it. I encourage you to take part in doing that this week and see what aspects of the Kingdom of God stick out to you. Additionally, reflect back on what I wrote about preparing to enter the Magic Kingdom. Now compare that to the Kingdom of God – what is it that excites you with God’s Kingdom? (It can be a variety of things such as leading people to the Lord, Bible studies, worship, etc.) Are you currently engaging in those things that excite you and keep that fire going for the Lord? If not, what can you do to ‘prepare’ yourself to continually be in awe about the Kingdom of God? My prayer is that you’ll have a rich time studying what the Kingdom is but will find opportunities to live that out, just like the Spirit-filled life should be.
Have a blessed week!