Kingdom of God
Jesus talks about entering the Kingdom of God, not in terms of going to heaven when we die, but in terms of living in the Kingdom in the here and now. We are welcomed as part of His Kingdom through accepting Christ and believing His truth; however, according to Scripture, living in the Kingdom now means certain things are true, and all of them are counterintuitive. For example, Jesus says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16). That makes absolutely no sense to us intuitively. He also says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” “Blessed are those who mourn,” “Blessed are the meek,” (Matthew 5:3-5) which is the opposite of what the world thinks is true. And He says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25). What?
So in order to live in the Kingdom now, we must lose our perspective and adopt His counterintuitive one. For example, the vast majority of people make their decisions based in large part on fear; however, Scripture tells us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (I John 4:18). We are also taught, “Do not worry about your life…Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-34). In order to live in the Kingdom, we need to choose the opposite of whatever fear tells us to do, and we need to stop listening and giving weight to our fears. This stance is completely counterintuitive, because we firmly believe that by worrying we can somehow avoid difficulty and protect ourselves. We do many things in our lives to protect ourselves, such as shutting down our feelings, avoiding dealing with problem issues, building walls against hurt, etc. etc. But Scripture tells us, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Once again, our self-perspective would say that makes no sense, that peace cannot be a protection for us! We need walls and anger and hiding places to be safe! Right? Jesus says otherwise.
Another example of counterintuitive living can be found in forgiveness. Jesus teaches, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-44). He also taught, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2). Our intuition tells us that forgiving is excusing bad behavior, and it lets those who sin against us off the hook. When we think that way, we fail to consider the weight of our own sin, and forget that if we were paid what was due to us, we too would be condemned. Once again, to live fully in His Kingdom, we must adopt His perspective, which is counterintuitive to our own.
The Road Less Traveled
A final example of the counterintuitive perspective of Jesus is found in His view of choosing the easy way vs. taking the harder road. We see the wide, broad road, and think, “Yes! That looks good!” He sees that same road and says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Our intuition thinks easy must be better; hard must be bad. Our instincts tell us difficulty and suffering is painful and to be avoided. But God’s perspective finds “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope” (Romans 5:2-4).
Endeavor to live counterintuitively. Adopting the perspective of the Kingdom and dropping the worldly view, even though it goes against everything we think we know, is in reality a life of freedom, hope, and peace. As Jesus said, “You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world” (John 15:19).
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Dr. Donna E. Lane is an award-winning author, professor, and Christian counselor. Her books include Strength in Adversity, Wilderness Meditations, and Restored Christianity.