We speak in our churches about repentance and repentance. The call to raise your hand or come forward during a call for conversion is commonplace in some church denominations. I also make such invitations. It is beautiful to see people praying a sinner’s prayer with tears or with full conviction. Party in heaven. But what happens next? Such a moment of conversion is not the goal, but the beginning of a lifelong adventure. A royal journey. That is the reality Jesus came to bring and the gospel He preached. The Kingdom of God and how we may live in it is the great story of the Bible. A challenge for all of us!
The Old Testament exudes anticipation for a new age. The countdown is on to the arrival of a unique king with a completely different government. ‘Great is his dominion, there will be no end of peace’ (Isaiah 9:6) is what the prophets sound expectantly. After a long wait, the new government arrives. Finally! Jesus says:‘The time has come, the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in this good news’ (Mark 1:15). It’s time. God’s Kingdom has landed on earth through Jesus. It is near!
What does it take to understand the dynamics of this beautiful Kingdom? Jesus says: ‘Repent!’ Repentance or conversion is the entrance. Jesus has made it possible to become part of this new Kingdom. But here Jesus actually means something deeper. The Greek word for repentance ismetanoia . That means something like a change in your way of thinking. Renewal of youmindset . You allow your old, worldly thought patterns to be converted into new ones. So conversion is not just repentance for your sins, but a holy desire for reformation. Jesus invites you to think royally and to live heavenly. That’s completely different!
A new fishing boat was recently launched in Urk. A unique fishing vessel that uses eighty percent less energy. The builder had invested years to design a much more economical vessel. When the ship was almost finished, he came across the word metanoia and gave his fishing vessel this name. During the construction process his thinking was completely renewed. New insights emerged and innovative choices were made. The result was a durable boat that functioned completely differently from all previous versions. Metanoia changes your thinking and results in completely new choices.
After your metanoia , Jesus invites you to “believe this good news.” Placing faith in something means that you believe in that new thingmindset lives out and translates into actions andlifestyle . You no longer allow your behavior to be determined by your old thinking patterns. You start living from heavenly principles and always choose the royal path. This process of renewing your thinking and changing your behavior takes time and effort. We all grew up with the principles of this world. We are unconsciously programmed incorrectly.
Jesus himself says it. ‘My kingship does not belong to this world. If my kingdom belonged to this world, my servants would have fought to prevent me from being handed over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). The government that Jesus brings cannot be found on earth and goes against all logic. It’s otherworldly. Incomparable and unseen. Opposite and counterproductive. But this heavenly rule must break through and become visible on our planet. Let your Kingdom come as it is in heaven.
A big job
We grow up with the wrong reflexes. We respond from unhealthy survival mechanisms. Even Peter, after three years of Jesus’ training, still acts in the old way. When a squad of soldiers and servants of the chief priests arrive to capture his Master, Peter grabs his sword. He cuts off Malchus’ ear. An act of heroism in the world in which you defend yourself. But in the Kingdom of God this is the wrong response. There you don’t fight back, but turn the other cheek. Fortunately, Jesus immediately solves the problem and the ear sticks back on. The first adhesive miracle! With Peter we are told that aggression is never the royal path: ‘Put your sword back in its place. For whoever takes the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Apparently, the much-needed change in thinking is a big job and a long process, because servants of King Jesus do not fight like this. Our weapons and methods are out of this world.
Peter’s aggressive attitude towards Jesus’ loving mentality is just one example. The character of God and the dynamics of the kingship that Jesus brings is different in every way. That is why Karl Barth and other theologians have called God the All-Other . The God who is incomparable and incompatible with everything that can be seen or experienced here on earth. He is different in everything. Not just a little, but completely and always, everywhere and in every respect.
All the voices around you are shouting for you to be successful, but in God’s Kingdom it is about bearing fruit. Success is to your honor, but bearing fruit is something you do for someone else. Your influence is not determined by the number of people you lead or the number of employees you oversee, but Jesus asks you how many people you wash the feet of. To rule becomes to serve. Determining becomes influencing. Power becomes condescension. While this life is often about accumulating money and trying to become rich, the invitation from heaven is to give away as much as possible. These are just a few examples, but you realize that our world in no way corresponds to the heavenly dynamics that Jesus came to bring. God is the All-Other and his Kingdom is 100% original. Let us participate again and again in the heavenly journey of discovery to think royally and live royally. A transformation that can lead to a reformation!
This blog was written in response to: my new book ‘Growing in royal thinking’ which will be released at the end of June.