Out of This World
Jesus talked to a lot of people during His time on earth. I’m talking about actual two-way conversations He had with people. Jesus talked with military commanders and religious leaders, with prostitutes and tax collectors, with lawyers and lepers, and with dead men, demons, and disciples. One of Jesus’ final conversations was with Pontius Pilate, the Roman-appointed prefect of Judea who would ultimately order His crucifixion. Over the course of their conversation, Jesus tells Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
Pilate probably thought Jesus was a little crazy when He said this. “After all,” he likely reasoned to himself, “who has anything that’s not in this world?” It’s one thing for kids to have wild imaginations, but a grown man in His thirties talking about an out-of-this-world kingdom just seems foolish. Likewise, the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well probably thought Jesus was a little crazy when He, after asking her for some water because He had nothing with which to draw, offered her living water (John 4:7-12). After all, who has out-of-this-world water?
They may have even gone a step further, believing in His out-of-this-world kingdom and water, but questioning their value. Maybe Pilate thought to himself, “What good is an out-of-this-world kingdom when a right-here-right-now kingdom is about to crucify You?” Or perhaps the woman at Jacob’s well thought to herself, “What good is out-of-this-world water when You’re about to die of thirst because you can’t draw any right-here-right-now water?” They would not be alone in these questions. Even faithful saints sometimes become frustrated at how far away Jesus’ not-of-this-world kingdom seems from our desires, needs, and struggles in this present age.
But this is the nature of our King. Jesus is not of this world, His kingdom is not of this world, and we, as citizens of it, are not of this world either. It may sound foolish, and it may be difficult to understand how something can be out of this world, but that’s how Jesus’ kingdom works. His kingdom, and by extension our kingdom, is not of this world.
We are, of course, born into this natural world, and our flesh remains there until the end of our natural lives. But something changes at the moment of salvation. In one of His many conversations, Jesus told Nicodemus that we must be “born again” (John 3:3). He explained that He was not talking about a natural birth, but a spiritual birth. Just as we enter this natural world through the process of birth, we enter God’s kingdom through the process of spiritual birth. Jesus said that “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6). Paul explained in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” This new creation, our newborn spirit, is not a part of this world, but of God’s kingdom.
Dr. Michael Brown once answered a question about whether someone could lose his or her salvation by saying, “If what you received was really eternal, then it doesn’t expire after two weeks.” While we may receive the fullness of eternal life in Heaven, our eternal life begins to some extent right here and right now. This is what Jesus meant in John 10:10 when He said He came that we “may have life and have it more abundantly.” God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).
As born-again new creations, we are neither limited by nor subject to the worldly systems that surround us. We are citizens of an out-of-this-world kingdom. That is our home and that’s where we belong. There may be seasons of discomfort when we’re away from home, and we may experience difficulties and hardships while we’re gone, but we can endure those because we know the joy that awaits us once we get home. The most important work we do in this life is in service of the kingdom. Our most important business is kingdom business. We must “seek first the kingdom” (Matthew 6:33). Our reward is not found in this world, but in the kingdom. We cannot take our eyes off the prize; we must keep our sights set on the kingdom. Our salvation is not of this world, our reward is not of this world, and our citizenship is not of this world because we are not of this world.We are part of God’s kingdom, and it’s out of this world!