Mark 11:1-25 reveals two kingdoms in conflict… two value systems battling for supremacy and control of our hearts and lives. And the two kingdoms: Our Kingdom and Jesus’ Kingdom.
Our Kingdom. Our kingdom is built any time we put ourselves at the center. In our kingdom, our interests, desires, and needs take priority over everyone and everything else. We see it in our relationships when we have to get our way. We see it in our finances when we continually spend and accumulate more and more for ourselves. We see it in our identity, when we maneuver and make decisions that promote and protect ourselves. We see it in our emotions as we react when something doesn’t go our way.
Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus’ kingdom is built anytime we put Him at the center. We see Jesus’ kingdom being built in our relationships when we love people like He loves people. We see it in our finances as we give generously to His ministry and mission. We see it in our identity when we are more concerned about what He thinks of us than what others think of us. We see it in our emotions as we choose to trust Him when things don’t go our way.
At the end of the day, these two kingdoms are in conflict. They’re opposed to each other. They operate off two different value systems. They aim to exalt two different things. Jesus confronts our kingdom and calls us to join His.
As Jesus confronts our kingdom and calls us to join His, what do we do about it?
The war is not “out there.” The war is in your heart. The epicenter of the confrontation and conflict is not out there in the culture and in the world. The most intense war is for our heart. Jesus didn’t begin by overthrowing Rome. He began by overthrowing Jerusalem. Jesus went straight to the temple, straight to the heart of Israel’s worship and affections. Jesus does the same with us. He goes straight to our heart, worship, and affections.
John Owen, the 17th century English Puritan, wrote, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” This is why the cross of Christ and the gospel are so crucial for our lives. Jesus’ death on the cross on our behalf defeated the ultimate power of sin over our lives. His work on our behalf gives us the opportunity to be freed from sin’s tyrannical and insatiable rule over our hearts. And it is only by His strengthening grace through the Holy Spirit that we can daily confront and wage war on the sin in our lives.
Where are those places in your life, your actions, your thoughts, and your choices where you have a tendency to build your own kingdom? Where are the places where you always have to get your way? Where are those places where your emotions go haywire when you don’t get your way? Where are those places where you find it most difficult to sacrifice and give yourself and your possessions away freely?
Will you allow Jesus to come and lovingly yet powerfully confront your kingdom? Will you let Him come into your heart and life and be not only your Savior, saving you from sin and death, but also let Him be your Lord as you daily direct the affections and actions of your heart towards Him for Him? Because here’s the reality: as we recognize Him as King and Lord… as we give Him control over our lives and relationships… as we partner with Him and build His kingdom, we actually live out who we were ultimately created to be.