When Kingdoms Fall
Updated: Mar 24, 2020
It only took a week for every single one of our kingdoms to fall.
Our plans. Cancelled.
Our routines. Disrupted.
Our security. Dismantled.
Our relationships. Disconnected.
Our Control. Disintegrated.
Our Systems. Decimated.
Our thoughts. Disjointed.
Our hearts. Unsettled.
Our futures. Uncertain.
Our kingdoms. Crumbled.
In one week, we went from being the masters of our fate, authors of our story, creators of our destiny — to having zero control over tomorrow, zero say in our freedom, and zero power to change our situation. In one week, we went from full menus, full calendars, and full-of-it attitudes, to empty shelves at the grocery store, empty schedules on our calendars, and empty time on our hands.
The reality is most of us are praying this thing passes quickly so life can get back to normal. So, we can get back to business as usual.
But what if business as usual isn’t business as intended?
What if God isn’t wanting us to slow down our lives but to totally rearrange them?
What if playing church isn’t going to cut it anymore? What if praising him with our mouths while bowing down to the gods of this world isn’t going to work anymore?
What if this is a line-in-the-sand kind of moment, where God is asking us, “Me or them? What’s it gonna be, folks?”
If all we do during this time is pass the time until we can get our lives back, then maybe that’s the problem.
After all, whose lives are they anyway?
Didn’t we lay our lives down at the foot of the cross? Or maybe we didn’t. And that’s why our hearts are reeling. Because even though we proclaimed Jesus as Lord with our mouths, our full bellies, full schedules, and full-of-it attitudes couldn’t be bothered to actually make him Lord of our lives.
I think we have this whole Christian thing upside down. When we asked Jesus into our hearts, was it more of an invitation into our kingdoms, or was it a surrender of all that we are, all that we were, and all that we hope to be? Did we join in God’s mission to build his kingdom? Or, did we invite the King of Kings into a kingdom where we sit on our thrones and ask him to do our bidding?
Make this dream come true, God! Give me that job, God! Make my life easy, convenient, and free from pain and suffering, God!
And when he doesn’t do our bidding? Well, then why even believe anymore? He must not be as powerful, good, or loving as we wanted. Why bother with a God who doesn’t see our wishes as his commands? Why bother with a God who doesn’t work on our timelines or work around our plans?
The Christian life is not about inviting Jesus into our kingdoms. It’s about leaving our kingdoms in the dust and joining HIS. It’s about surrendering our small, feeble, proud, insignificant lives and receiving in exchange the life-breathing, life-altering, life-reframing presence of Jesus, who is not just a comforter in times of trouble, but also the King who will not share his throne with anyone! Fullness of life is found in him. But only once we’ve come to the end of ourselves.
It’s time to wake up, church! We’ve been lulled to sleep by the melody of complacency.
In the book of Ezekiel, God’s people found themselves in the very same boat. Rather than living out their mission as a holy, royal priesthood, whose lives were meant to display God’s holiness to the nations, they said instead, “We want to be like the nations all around us!” (Ezekiel 20:32)
God gave Ezekiel a secret view into the temple of his time. First, he had to do a little digging, though. (Ezekiel 8:8) The problems weren’t obvious from the outside. In fact, the shiny exterior would have given every impression of success and grandeur. On the outside, it was “business as usual.” The building looked strong, but the inside was full of people bustling about their day, playing religious games. They claimed to know God, but their hearts were full of idolatry and sin.
Let's make one thing crystal clear. God wasn’t showing Ezekiel how bad the world was. He wasn’t pointing out the idolatry of the people who didn’t call themselves children of God. He was showing Ezekiel that God’s people looked no different from the world. Their wish had come true. They were indeed just like the nations all around them.
The things Ezekiel saw tore his heart into pieces. The hearts of the children of God “were given to their idols” (20:16). Their hearts were consumed to the point that they were actually offering their children to these gods.
We might look at this and think, surely this doesn’t apply to us. We aren’t so bad as all those sinners out there. And we would never stoop so low as to sacrifice our children.
Or would we?
Do we look any different from the world? Do our lives display God's holiness, or our own pursuits for success? Do our lives actually belong to him, or are we clutching tightly to our rights, our plans, and our kingdoms? How many of our children have been sacrificed on the altars we’ve built to our gods? While we’ve been building our kingdoms, which gods have we given our hearts to? And which gods have we sacrificed our children to?
The god of reputation.
The god of excess.
The god of convenience.
The god of prestige.
The god of sports.
The god of success.
The god of scholarships.
The god of entertainment.
The god of perfection.
The god of comparison.
The god of technology.
The god of busyness.
The god of apathy.
The god of complacency.
How much longer will we do whatever we please, when God has made it clear that only in him will we ever truly find life? How much longer will we bow down to the gods of this world, while the world wallows in darkness?
How much longer before we live like what we say we believe is actually true?
God is still able to breathe his life back into our dry bones. He is still able and willing to raise to life what’s been dead. He is still searching this earth for those whose hearts are turned toward him. We can still be a holy priesthood, created with the purpose of displaying God’s holiness to the nations. But we must first be desperate for him before we can ever display him.
In one week, our kingdoms fell. Of course they did. They were built on sinking sand. But what will be far more detrimental is if, after all this is over, we are the same people we were before. Will we simply rebuild our kingdoms out of the dust? Or will we abandon them for a kingdom whose King is still on the throne and whose dominion will never end?
God is calling out to those who will listen, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life."
May we not be the same people we were a week ago. May we never, ever, be the same.