How Do You Know If You’re Living in the Kingdom of God?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
I once heard someone ask J. I. Packer, “How do you know if you’re living in the kingdom of God?” Packer reflected a minute, and then said, “We know we’re living in the kingdom of God if we are constantly changing.” That’s a great answer. Caring for others requires constant change as we transition from seeing our entire life through the lens of self-interest to seeing others around us.
I wish I could tell you that I woke up one morning and decided to make all of my decisions based solely on the well-being of others. Obviously, that did not happen. I love myself too much. For me, I view the endeavor of caring for people and their well-being as a life-long change process. In order to keep changing, I find myself constantly in need of self-awareness if I want to break through old habits to new ones.
However, self-awareness is not always about personal assessment. We need to learn how to better understand and relate to people. There are times to calm down, ask questions, and listen instead of coming to conclusions. Instead of being all business while at work, take a few minutes every day to slow down and get to know people, one person at a time. Learn to understand the personality of a person and what motivates them, as well as what frustrates them.
For Christians, self-awareness and emotional intelligence go back to recognizing the needs of individuals. Isn’t that what Jesus did? He could see into a person’s soul better than anyone. He understood the personalities and needs of each of the disciples. He understood Zacchaeus, and he understood the Pharisees when they tried to trick him. Jesus was a great example of understanding people and communicating effectively with them on a daily basis.
So we aim for constant change and increased self-awareness, in both who we are as individuals and how we can better serve others. Gradually, God helps us focus less on ourselves and more on the needs of others. When we do, maybe in some very small way, we can help God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When has understanding the needs of another person helped you become a better friend? Who in your life seemed to understand you and the issues important to you? Looking back, how do you think they learned about you? Did they ask a lot of questions? Were they good listeners?
PRAYER: Father, help us grow in self-awareness, not merely for the sake of controlling our own behavior but to show your unconditional love to those around us. Help us to understand the people around us so that we can better speak to their needs. Give us wisdom and understanding as we become agents for your kingdom. Amen.
On Earth As It Is in Heaven
When we pray, do we say, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and then sit back and wait for someone to show up on the scene and make things happen? As people of faith—at work, in our community, in our home, in our relationships—how do we partner with God to usher in the kingdom of God, right where we are? How can we live the gospel in such a way that we welcome the kingdom of God wherever we show up? What is the impact of doing good work in the places God has called us? What does it mean to do good work, and why does it matter? Does my good work every day make a difference for eternity? After we pray, On Earth As It Is in Heaven, what are practical ways to partner with God in seeing that come to pass, right in the place where we are?