Citizens of heaven, resident on earth

Key Points

  • We are citizens of heaven with God’s mandate to extend his Kingdom on earth
  • He places us in positions where we influence people, neighbourhoods, cultures and nations

“The ‘kingdom of heaven’ is not about people going to heaven. It is about the rule of heaven coming to earth.”

Tom Wright

“This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus Christ: Matthew 6 v 9-10 (NIV)

OK, so let’s be clear. This is a very succinct summary of the Kingdom of God and the entrepreneur’s place within it. It’s important to present an overview in the context of setting out the calling and mission of entrepreneurs in the Kingdom. There are both theological, inspirational and practical books and texts on the Kingdom, and I shall rely on them in presenting this summary. In my humble opinion there are four that I have found excellent 1,2,3,4.

Apprentices in the Kingdom

In our twenties and thirties my wife and I were part of a church in Farnborough, Hampshire in the UK (latterly relocating to Aldershot).  The church was pioneering in the UK, and beyond, with other ministries and churches, what it meant to live in the Kingdom of God, and what this looks like in everyday life. We were journeying through the charismatic renewal and trying to grasp hold of what the Spirit of God was saying about lifestyle and mission in an increasingly post-modern culture. There were many lessons learned on the journey (not that we ever stop learning), many good and not a few that were painful. More lately I, like so many others, have been further instructed, encouraged and blessed in the lifestyle of the disciple in the Kingdom by the ministry of Bethel Church in Redding, California. So, I have had the privilege of living with the revelation of God’s intention through his Church to establish and enlarge his Kingdom for most of my adult life.

Perhaps it is only in the last ten to fifteen years that this has become more mainstream in the Church at large, and it is thrilling to see a great momentum developing to see his Kingdom come on earth as it is heaven. This is a momentous understanding by today’s Church. It changes our worldview and increasingly causes us to re-evaluate and redefine our identity, purpose and mission. This is really well summed up by Dave Devenish:

“it is important … that we have a kingdom theology as well as a church theology. Sadly, I believe many Christians have neither, but a ‘personal salvation’ theology.”

Dave Devenish

The now but not yet full

Tom Wright’s illuminating comment in his book, “How God became King”, in referring to the Sermon on the Mount and ‘the Lord’s prayer’, is, I think, most helpful:

“The ‘kingdom of heaven’ is not about people going to heaven. It is about the rule of heaven coming to earth. When Matthew has Jesus talking about heaven’s kingdom, he means that heaven – in other words, the God of heaven – is establishing his sovereign rule not just in heaven, but on earth as well.”

Tom Wright

I think that all, if not most proponents, would say that the fullness of the Kingdom cannot be known in this earthly realm quite simply because heaven is God’s place, (as Tom Wright states so succinctly), and we are struggling with, and somewhat constrained by, the effects of the Fall, even though Jesus paid the full cost to negate these effects. So, whilst the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s (Psalm 24v1), and earth is His footstool (Matthew 5v35), we do not yet see everything under the feet of Jesus, or us as His disciples (Hebrews 2v5). The time will come when his rule and realm as King of Kings will be full and final. We are living in the age or dispensation between the coming of the Kingdom, when Jesus paid the full and absolute price for our salvation (healed, whole and delivered) and announced that his Kingdom was “at hand” (within touching distance), and the enthronement of Jesus as the King over all creation when everyone and everything will bow before Him.

We can be sure that “of the increase of his government and peace there will be end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9v6). As Isaiah prophesied, a Kingdom is coming; a King will rule, and his reign will be one of righteousness, justice and peace. His Kingdom is continually increasing, and it is a Kingdom of peace – meaning well-being and wholeness. The apostle Paul, too, taught about the kingdom of God and looked forward to its eventual triumph in his great resurrection chapter: “then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death’. (1 Corinthians 15v 24-26).

It is in the name of Jesus that we extend his rule until then. Jesus’ mission, and our mission on earth will be accomplished.

Citizens of heaven…

True love can only be expressed in a relationship where both parties are unfettered in the expressions of love

It is in the name of Jesus that we extend his rule until then. Jesus’ mission, and our mission on earth will be accomplished.

Jesus made it clear that we are to be the agents that extend his rule. He sent us out on mission to makes disciples of the nations and within the nations (Matthew 28v19). This mission is to see God’s righteousness, justice and peace extended and established. He sent us with his authority, and we are his ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5v20) and citizens of heaven (Philippians 3v20). Therefore, we represent the country of our citizenship in ‘another country’ and have the delegated authority and privileges of the Head of State in our country living in the foreign land.  As I often say, we are citizens of heaven, resident on earth. We represent a Head of State with absolute, morally perfect and unfettered authority and power. Whereas the delegation to us is entirely effective in heaven’s terms, imperfect people seeking to live in an often-hostile environment with the amazing grace that He gives us, most often become the weak link and we mess it up. But God is not fazed by such imperfections.  After all God is an entrepreneur; He took the risk of creating us with free will because of his great love for us so that we could know the intimacy of his love and choose to express and declare his love to everyone. True love can only be expressed in a relationship where both parties are unfettered in the expressions of love. You can express great admiration and commitment to a dictator but where there is fear love runs away. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4v18).

…but resident on earth

It’s vitally important that we realise that our battle or struggle is not against flesh and blood (people) but against principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness of this age operating in rebellion under the heavenly realm (Ephesians 6v12).

It is not a kingdom of physical force

In the context of our lives, it is against mind sets, cultures, authority systems etc. that are acting contrary to, and producing effects that are contrary to, the rule and reign of the kingdom of God and the resulting righteousness, justice and peace.  It is not a kingdom of physical force, but a kingdom that demonstrates the power of peace, forgiveness, grace, righteousness and justice (John 16 v 36). As John Stott says:

“The kingdom of God …. Is spread by witness, not by soldiers, through a gospel of peace, not a declaration of war, and by the work of the Spirit, not by force of arms, political intrigue or revolutionary violence.”

John Stott

These are the weapons of our ‘warfare’ against the principalities and powers acting against God’s rule.

That is not to neglect the power of prayer. As Kingdom people, when we pray rightly, we are not only inviting Jesus’s rule into the situation, but we are binding up or setting free on earth because it shall have been bound in heaven (Matthew 18v18). As Bill Johnson says:

“If it is not free to exist in heaven, it must be bound here. Again, through prayer we are to exercise the authority given to us…. The implication (of this scripture) is that we can only bind or loose here what has already been bound or loosed there. Once again heaven is our model.”

Bill Johnson

Thus, the Kingdom has already come, but it will only come in fullness after Jesus returns to earth and so begins the ‘age to come’. In the meantime, we are to be bringing into this ‘present evil age’ (Galatians 1 v 4) the powers of the age to come, the powers of the now-reigning Christ. As David Devenish says:

“In the future, there will be no sickness; so, we pray for the sick and they are healed, the presence of the future kingdom comes now. In the future kingdom, there is no poverty, for all will have enough to eat and will dwell in security under their own vine and their own fig tree (Zechariah 3 v 10); and so we feed the poor, we bring the future kingdom into the ‘present evil age’.”

Dave Devenish

The reach of the Kingdom

According to the website, 7 Cultural Mountains, in 1975, Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, and Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission, had lunch together in Colorado. God simultaneously gave both of these men a message to give to the other. During that same time frame Francis Schaeffer (theologian and founder of L’Abri) was given a similar message. That message was that if we are to impact any nation for Jesus Christ, then we would have to affect the seven spheres, or mountains of society that are the pillars of any society.

We need to scale the mountains of influence if culture is to be changed

Although there are alternative ways of expressing the seven mountains, they are commonly referred to as: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family and religion. In essence, the message is that these are the seven mountains of influence that need to scaled by Kingdom people if culture is to be changed.

Whilst others may argue that there are alternative, or better ways, of describing the culture in which we live in these days, I have found these to be helpful in understanding in a simple way the reach of the Kingdom of God. God calls and places us in jobs, careers and vocations, with his grace, to be able to influence people in some way that advances his government of peace. These may appear tiny to us but taken together with all God’s ‘change agents’ across the face of the earth, this is an advancing Kingdom!

The reach of the entrepreneur

It follows from the above that God will place his people, including entrepreneurs, into position of influence in these seven mountains. Some, I guess, are more tangible for the entrepreneur. Classically entrepreneurs are drawn into the business/commerce realm.  However, I have noticed with increasing frequency (perhaps because I’ve been looking more attentively!) that social entrepreneurs are rising up, and also people known as intrapreneurs (i.e. marketplace people employed in organisations to lead a new business initiative or stream on behalf of the organisation). And what about pioneering pastors/ministers in the religious sphere, people who are often also social entrepreneurs. A good friend of mine has recently retired from being course leader on a Masters programme in the UK concerned with visual communication. He was a Kingdom person seeking to demonstrate the Kingdom to future leaders in advertising and design.  Another person that comes to mind is Simon Ward, who worked for over 30 years in the fashion industry, most recently as Chief Operating Officer of the British Fashion Council. Both people were God’s change agents in the media and art mountains, and they continue to be, albeit perhaps in slightly different ways. There will be others both in this industry and others because God places people into these arenas to influence. (For Simon and others’ stories and insights see 7 and 8).

God sets into position those who burn with the message and passion to extend the reach of the Kingdom

Kingdom entrepreneurs may be mums or dads or guardians at home raising up children who are leading their peers in the classroom and, in time as key influencers in their generations. These are people who will be influencing people and cultures at the school gate, in the PTA, in community programmes, as governors and so on. They may be pastors/ministers pioneering a work in an area or community, a politician striving to influence regional or national debate or change in their political party for the good of the community, a civil servant supporting those, or influencing those who prepare or make policy decisions. They can be entertainers, artists, film makers, critics, school or university teachers, police officers… and so the list goes on. God sets into position those who burn with the message and passion to extend the reach of the Kingdom, and who innovate, take risk and initiative to do so.

The reach of the entrepreneur is wherever the Kingdom of God needs to be ‘preached’, and this is wherever people are and in whatever field of endeavour they are living and working. Jesus instructs us to “seek first the Kingdom and righteousness” (Matthew 6v33) and the things that we need in our life (of mission) are given to us.

For the keen…

A really useful resource for those interested in reading more about entrepreneurship and/or work in God’s Kingdom is to be found in the referenced texts9,10,11,12.

  1. Johnson, Bill; When heaven invades earth – a practical guide to a life of miracles. Destiny Image Publishers Inc. 2003. ISBN 0-7684-2952-8
  2. Wright, Tom; How God became King, SPCK 2012. ISBN 978-0-281-06146-4
  3. Ladd, George Eldon; The Presence of the Future. Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1974. ISBN 978-0-8028-1531-6
  4. Devenish, David; What on earth is the Church for?, Authentic Media, 2005. ISBN 1-86024-537-4
  5. Stott, John. The message of Acts. IVP, 1994
  6. accessed 25/04/19
  7. Ward, Simon; The Character of Fashion – multi-talented God, White Bench Publishing 2016. ISBN 978-0-993247-82-8
  8. Higginson, R and Robertshaw, K; A voice to be heard. Inter-Varsity Press 2017. ISBN 978-78359-565-5
  11. Transforming Work, London Institute for Contemporary Christianity