The Kingdom Life Model
The season manifesting spiritually is one calling for something more; yet one in which the “something more” has got to be far more than just “more of the same, harder.”
In my role of serving the church in persecuted nations, I’ve witnessed the inclination of indigenous church leaders, in mimicking what they consider as the Western church models of success. One nation, in humbly emerging from a time of severe persecution, with an extensive and serious foundation of corporate prayer; found many refocusing on this “Western model.” In some cases it involved strong pastoral leadership; in others zealous Bible training; in themselves tapping the good, but like those they cloned, falling short of the best. Then far too often this Western model focus, coupled with a variant of fundraising, depending exclusively on Western resources as the source of funding their efforts.
A closer look at the foundations established by Jesus point to a model that represented a significantly different pattern and way of thinking from both the world and the religious standards from which Christianity was birthed. The work of Jesus was one of both restoration and of imparting new wine. From the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus announced the framework of this higher standard and model with the words: “The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Culture Clash and Change
The application of this higher standard and model actuated a major clash of cultures for the early Church. The surrounding Gentile world, starved for the manifest reality of God, flocked to becoming believers. There is no question that the Jewish roots that Jesus embraced, with this significantly upgraded model He walked out during His earthly ministry, was a significant challenge to the various cultures being penetrated in the generation following His ascension and the birth of the early Church.
What resulted in the centuries that followed reflected the continuation of this tension with the unfortunate modifications resulting from what had been the standard for the unique foundations of the early Church.
So, the model Jesus explained and lived out was and continues to be a challenge to the cultures around it. However, that tension and challenge embodied by these foundations is at the core of understanding that the purpose of the Kingdom model is not assimilation, but change. My illustration of church leaders in lands of persecution and poverty mimicking Western models of success, represents the same tension than ultimately undermined the foundations and infrastructures of power that were so evident in the early church.
Restoring the Foundations
In a graphic portrayal of this watered-down digression of the original model, Pastor Larry Burden explains in his book “Kingdom Life, Finding Life Beyond Church” (Insight Publishing Group, Tulsa, 2009) how he personally experienced, in his own journey as a church leader, the subtle ways that these Western church success models not only fall short, but miss the mark of Jesus’ original message and intent for His followers. His book explains the model and strategy he received from keenly listening to the Spirit, designed with the same intent as Jesus had for his original followers: that of Kingdom life and a confrontational strategy for change.
There is nothing new under the sun, as Solomon noted. So, when Jesus encountered a similar man-made modification of the standard within the ranks of the religious elite of His day, He very pointedly asked: “How can you believe since you accept glory from one another, but do not seek the glory that comes from God?” John 5:44
Jesus’ question addresses the distinction that Malachi noted would separate man-made efforts from those aligned with the Spirit, a difference that would be a clear distinction defining the righteous versus the wicked, between those who truly serve God and those who are serving their own causes and desires.
Far too many naively tend to view any biblical reference to the wicked as referring to those outside the household of faith. However, the prophecies of Malachi, as was the case with most corrective prophecies of pre-church prophets were targeting transgressions from among head-strong, self-serving leaders within the household of faith, those who had been misleading the sheep with their modifications of the standard.
The transgressions represented are what Jesus summed up as the precepts of men, which comprise the foundations of the error of man-made religion as opposed to the purity of truly not only knowing God, but genuinely walking together with Him. It is the continual acknowledgment of and response to His leadership, as King; honoring the one who is not only the standard-bearer, but the Source of strategy and purpose. It is the very reason James commented that not many should aspire to being teachers because of the solemn responsibility of upholding the standard.
James’ admonition should evoke the fear of the Lord among those in spiritual leadership. It is not and has never been a head-thing. Likewise, it should be cause to examine the extent to which Paul admonished Timothy to be wary of relationships of ones whose mode is that of boasting, operating as lovers of themselves, lovers of money, giving priority to pleasure and comforts, being disrespectful, ungrateful, haughty and so on (2 Tim 3:1-5). Paul’s advice was to avoid them.
Central to the standard Jesus outlined and demonstrated is that of Kingdom life, culturally a departure from the accepted standard and way of thinking of those in both the world and far too many religious settings of believers. However, the snares triggering man-made religion are subtle and strong. They represent the age-old lure of conformity with God’s people wanting to be like everyone else. There is a difference.
Kingdom-Life versus Worldly Thinking*
Mind-Set Power, Myopic Service, Big Picture
Motivation Directive To Influence
Focus Self Community/ Others
Method Controlling Prophetic, Wisdom
Innovation Reduce Risk Risk, Faith
Creativity Based on Human Effort Drawn from the Creator
Outlook Short-sighted Anticipating Change
Strategy Ambition, Competition Serve/Mobilize/Mentor
Output Gain Power Bring Blessing
Function Micro-Manage Motivate, Nurture
Future Comfort, Stability Establish Kingdom Climate
The Foundations Under Fire
Remember, at the crux of the standard raised by the early church, was a message of change of both lifestyle and thinking, accompanied by the demonstration of love and power. It was a standard that involved a fine-line in the confrontation resulting from the culture-clash, evidenced by those whose lives were walking in the demonstration of the Spirit.
In addition to the clash of cultures with the surrounding world, came a significant culture-clash between the Gentile and Messianic segments of the early Church. That clash and the divide that ensued intensified, until the fourth century when the emperor Constantine mandated on the side of the Gentile segment of the Church.
The result of excluding the Jewish foundations of the faith not only greatly reduced the power of the Spirit that once was commonplace among the early believers, but harshly created a divide with these vital, scriptural Jewish foundations, with the Kingdom message digressing into a watered-down version of the original model. With this demarcation from Jesus’ standard, the societies encompassing the Church fell into roughly ten centuries of what have been labeled as the dark ages.
Kingdom Life: Restoration of the Foundations and More
However, since the time of the fall in the Garden, God’s response to the digressions of His people has again and again been restoration. Today, around the globe, believers are simultaneously discovering the Jewish roots to the faith and the Kingdom message.
Again, Jesus’ earthly ministry modeled the foundations for actuating Kingdom Life. At its core is the priority and focus given to time in God’s presence. Jesus spent entire nights doing so, becoming a reflector, with the ensuing events, of what He had experienced while in the Father’s presence. Jesus said, “I always do what I see my Father doing.”
“The Son is the reflection of God’s glory, the exact representation of His nature.” Heb 1:3
Becoming a reflector of God’s glory is not to be taken lightly. There is a cost. There is no blended version. Light and darkness simply do not co-exist. Jesus’ high priestly prayer set the stage for His followers to walk a Kingdom life. It is the demarcation from the mishaps of His headstrong disciples resulting from their being entrapped by patterns of human effort and the collision of strong personalities. This age-old divide was addressed with the impartation mentioned in this prayer of: “The glory You have given me, I have given them that they may be one, just as we are one.” (John 17:22)
The amazing answer to that prayer and the start of this part of their journey into Kingdom life began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is only one part of the reflection of the anomaly represented by the mysteries tied to walking according to the Kingdom standard.
Kingdom Thinking: A Glimpse of the Mysteries*
Our purpose in life comes through giving it up.
He who finds his life will lose it and he who eschews his life for My sake will gain it. Matthew 10:39
Honor comes through humility.
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt loses its flavor, it is good for nothing. Matt 5:13
Wisdom is found in simplicity.
Father, You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Matt 11:26
We advance by yielding.
Whatever city or town you enter, inquire who is worthy and stay there till you go. When you enter a house bless it. If it is worthy give it your blessing of peace, if not let your blessing return. Matt 10:11-14
Perfect love eliminates fear.
Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Making your assets multiply will bring promotion.
Well done good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many. Matt 25:21
We receive by giving and growth comes by generosity.
Give and it will be given unto you. Good measure, pressured down, shaken together and running over shall men give unto you. Luke 6:38
We bless those who curse us and extend love to our enemies.
Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those spitefully use you and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven. Matthew 5:44
In weakness we are made strong.
Whatever you wish others to do to you, do also to them. So enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate that leads to destruction, but narrow is the way that leads to life. Matthew 7:12
Faithful stewardship increases trust and authority.
Who is that faithful and wise steward whom his master will make ruler over his household. Blessed is the servant whom his master will find doing when he comes. Luke 12:42
We lead by serving.
Let him who is to be the greatest become the least and the leader as a servant. Matt 20:25
Ownership and success increases by sharing.
If there is a poor man among your brothers, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your poor brother, rather lend him what he needs that the Lord might bless the work of your hands. Deut 15:7
Yet, despite today’s restoration to the original model and message of Jesus are the subtle snares that slip into the precepts of men, the dependency on human effort … typically driven by religious spirits. Maturity compensates and comes from the time spent in His presence and then abiding in Him. Likewise, spiritual maturity will coincide with courage, humility, fear of the Lord and a serious response to our covenant relationship with God.
Courage. Jehosaphat’s summation in setting up judges over the people was to: “Deal courageously, and the Lord will be with the good.” (2 Chron 19:11) Upon bringing about the spectacular victory, when the sun stood still and the Lord rained down large hailstones against their enemies, Joshua being the leader that he was, brought together the chief leaders of the men of war to put their feet on the necks of the five kings they had captured, telling them: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or dismayed, for thus the Lord will do to all the enemies against whom you shall fight.” The range of the scriptural admonitions involving courage extends from facing your fears to behaving uprightly in making decisions that will affect those under your charge. So it will be, unlike anytime ever before, in this unusual season now upon us, as we face major battles and challenges.
Humility. Scripture notes that Moses was a most humble man. Indeed, from the prince of Egypt to the 40 years of waiting, knowing His mandate, Moses’ already significant strength and ability, became aligned with God’s, his wisdom as a leader becoming one with Adonai. And still there was more, so much more for him to be depending upon. It was this example that was transferred to Joshua, who during the battle with the Gibeonites, commanded the sun and the moon to halt in the sky. It is a threshold of it no longer being us, but the presence of mind, predisposition and clarity of spiritual hearing that apostolic leaders must tap in their roles for this day.
This is the unity, the alignment needed for the spiritual leaders to address the intensity of this hour. It can be nothing less than the attitude expressed by Jesus, as God’s Messiah:
“If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me.” John 8:54
“So refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge as it comes, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.” Matt 6:34
Fear of the Lord. God’s overriding admonition to the leaders of the people is in embracing the fear of the Lord in administering these responsibilities. “Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the LORD. He is with you in giving judgment. Now then, let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the LORD our God, or partiality or taking bribes.” 2 Chron 19:6-7
God’s Covenant and Judgments. The covenants God has made with His people over the centuries represent a mosaic, the progressive nature of the restoration of the relationship once in the Garden. The book of Hebrews speaks of the eternal blood covenant which was at the foundation of raising Jesus from the dead. The flip side of abiding according to and yielding to the leadership of God and the standard represented by this age-old covenant are God’s judgments, which begin with the household of faith, because that is what is needed before we can have the authority to being the wielders of His judgments, which also will become significant in this season.
“He is the Lord. His judgments are in all the earth and His covenant, the word He commanded when you were few in number and of little account. So He allows no one to oppress you saying do not touch my anointed ones and do my prophets no harm.” 1 Chron 16:22
The More: New Wineskins for the New Wine
The Apostle John uniquely embraced the threshold Jesus had operated in. Over the ages those God has used to wield the authority of this mantle always stood apart; their criteria for success never aligned with any man-dependent standard. What Jesus imparted was an even higher standard, summed up as including the need for new wineskins for the new wine. At the core of the authority and power He operated in was the truth revealed when Job had pulled out all the stops of his human efforts and fallen short; with God imparting to him a dimension that had previously been far beyond him: the impartation of the Light of Life.
“They draw near to the pit and their life to the messengers of death. Yet if there is an angel at their side, a mediator sent to tell them how to be upright, and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them: their flesh be renewed like a child’s; let them be restored as in the days of their youth.’ Then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being. They will go to others and say, ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved. God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life. God does all these things to a person—twice, even three times — to turn them back from the pit that the light of life may shine on them.” Job 33:22-30
John had a strong grasp of this dimension in which believers were to become sons of Light and sons of the Day …in imparting the Light of Life. John’s life exemplified the intensity, persecution and backlash of the world in which the early believers lived; admonishing that in this turbulent journey that the darkness would not overtake them/ us (John 12:35). John understood the standard, the bar that Jesus had raised that penetrates the veil of embracing the new wineskin God requires for this higher standard, and what is needed to embrace the fullness of the New Wine in being imparters of the Light of Life that had been poured out at Pentecost.
Early in His earthly ministry Jesus warned that the Kingdom pathway would be narrow and it would be difficult. The narrow is tied to the significance of the standard required in wielding the authority to release the power. The difficulty is with the reality of the realm of darkness that targets and seeks to undermine and destroy any who begin operating in this authority. The true Kingdom pathway is as I have long described it as being a narrow corridor between Life and death. So, let us reach for the standard of being servants of Messiah and stewards of the mysteries of God …. in imparting the Light of Life. It is a fine-line threshold.
The Clash and the Authority for Confrontation
That fine-line authority operated strongly in Daniel in a most impossible setting. Whereas it triggered the revelation of God to Nebuchadnezzar, known as the king of Babylon, it also released judgment when his pride began to blind him to it being God who put him on the throne. Later, the judgment against his son Belshazzar was dire when he crossed the line, embracing the mantle of being king of the occult Chaldeans, in his actions of lifting himself up before the Lord.
The prophecies concerning the Babylonian-Chaldean alliance are many and they are as pertinent to the clash underway today, as they were when Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel and John originally proclaimed them for their day. In short, there was and now will be no peace for the wicked, those who have aligned themselves with this age-old worldly-occult union. That includes those from within the household of faith, who have deviated from the narrow path, being blinded by a counterfeit grasp of success to the reality of the mandate of the Light of Life revealed to Job … the source of Kingdom Life.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits for nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63
“If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.” John 7:17-19
*Source: God’s Economy Seminars; Author Morris Ruddick
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick equips economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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