What is the way out of worry? We must become students of the King and his true kingdom so that we see its beauty and glory and become enthralled by it (114).
What is the Kingdom?
Often, this is a fuzzy concept, Welch says. But it shouldn’t be, because “it is where the King dwells, and the King now dwells on earth in a new way” (115). Jesus has come, as King. See Luke 4:16-21. Jesus fulfills prophecy, bringing the kingdom. Therefore, we are not alone. This is much like the admonition “Fear not, for I am with you.” The presence of God (in Christ specifically) grounds our confidence.
The Story Behind the Kingdom
God created everything. Then — insurrection (by Satan then people). So “God set about to restore his kingdom with an even greater grandeur. God determined to work through an insignificant group of people to usher in the eternal reign of his Son, the Messiah” (116).
The Kingdom Has Enemies
Welch uses here the analogy of a NASCAR vehicle. The “real” car is under the “shell.” Just so, the real world is the spiritual world, hidden “under the hood” of what we see. We are engaged in a real spiritual battle. This is hitting me. The other day I realized that maybe all the worrisome thoughts I have don’t only come from my own head. Many, I’m sure do. But the devil is real and so is the spiritual war. Often I functionally exclude this truth. Of course, I am messed up, and I bear much responsibility. The devil didn’t make me do it. This, yes, I know. I don’t, however, do balance well, so often I can often dismiss the actual reality of spiritual struggle.
This explains one of the paradoxes of all kingdom life. On one hand, there is rest and peace: the King has come and we enjoy the benefits of the kingdom. But at the same time, we live knowing that we are in the enemy’s crosshairs. Satan is ready to engage us in battle. The two kingdoms are in conflict. With all this going on behind the scenes, don’t think you can simply say “no” to fear and worry, and that will be the end of them (119).
Those last two sentences I didn’t have underlined, and I just re-read them as I was typing this blockquote. It ministered to me, and encourages me to fight on. Because there truly is a fight to fight. Here a quote I recently read from Murray is helpful.
Redemption from sin cannot be adequately conceived or formulated except as it comprehends the victory which Christ secured once for all over him who is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. We must view sin and evil in its larger proportions as a kingdom that embrace the subtlety, craft, ingenuity, power, and unremitting activity of Satan and his legions — “the principalities, and the powers, the world-rulers of this darkness, the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies” (Eph. 6:12). And it [is] impossible to speak in terms of redemption from the power of sin except as there comes within the range of this redemptive accomplishment the destruction of the power of darkness (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 50).
So, here again my seemingly unrelated readings providentially complement themselves. We are at war, yes. But we are at war with a defeated foe. Christ has defeated sin in two ways: inside me and outside me. He has defeated the reign of sin in my members and the one who is the king of sin. This is helpful to me, as I work through this whole mess.
It Is Hard for the Rich to Inherit the Kingdom
And this, Welch says, makes us desperate.
The Kingdom is About Allegiance to and Imitation of the King
Allegiance is commonly called faith and trust. “We choose sides: in whom do we trust?” (120). We then follow the way of “less fanfare”, “the path of persistence and endurance”.
This means that, unlike the rest of the world, we are not going to assume that fear and worry are staples of human life. Instead, we are going to set out on a path to trust more and worry less (121).
Part of this is with giving (this chapter is primarily about money). But still, we know that God is the one who gives, which is what the kingdom is about. The gift is, fundamentally, Jesus the King.
Therefore: When You Receive the Kingdom, You Receive a Person.
A Personal Response
“The kingdom is elusive to me because I am in a spiritual battle and I don’t even realize it, which makes me even more vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks” (123). Yes. Personally, I could see myself losing balance, though, and being like a guy I once heard about who slept with a samurai sword at the foot of his bed in ready for spiritual warfare.
I must recognize that the battle is spiritual, but, still, the battle is the Lord’s. Not mine. The King has conquered, and therefore sin (either from within or without) has no power over me.
May he continue to give me grace to work out this salvation with (the right-minded kind of) fear and trembling.