Do you ever get hooked on a song, and play it over and over again until your family tells you they hate it and never want to hear it again? I have been known to do just that, and the song I am currently hooked on is by the Irish Christian folk band Rend Collective: “Build Your Kingdom Here.” The lyrics and video are attached at the end of this post. Listen closely- there’s no way you will resist tapping your toes, and no bad mood could withstand this happy tune…
I didn’t intend to write a post about Palm Sunday, but I recognized a connection between my song and that week before Passover 2000 years ago. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, the people lining the streets shouting hosanna were greeting their new king. The cheering crowds thought that Jesus was the revolutionary they had been dreaming of, that He would overthrow the oppressive Roman government, that He would institute a new regime that would honor His chosen people above everyone else. “Hosanna” literally means “save now” and the crowds thought they were standing at the edge of political, economic, and social salvation. Build Your kingdom here, NOW, they cried.
But things didn’t work out as expected, because the Kingdom they welcomed wasn’t the kingdom they wanted. The first thing Jesus did when He got there was to purify the temple from corruption by overturning the moneychangers’ tables. Then He healed the blind and the lame to the tune of children singing praises to their King. “But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things He did… they were indignant…” (Matthew 21:15) (That verse could make you laugh if it wasn’t so tragic.) Neither the Sanhedrin nor the crowds could control Jesus, and when He didn’t meet their expectations, they crucified Him.
When we ask for the kingdom of Christ to come, do we know what we are asking for? Jesus doesn’t sugarcoat it at all: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) Taking up a cross daily sounds terrible, frankly. And when we are told to “seek first the kingdom of God,” (Matthew 6:33) do we realize that means we have to “deny self?”
Following Jesus means surrendering control of my life and letting Him lead. Following Jesus means giving up what I expect and accepting what He gives. I must count the cost and forsake all I have in order to all I have in order to follow Him. (Luke 14:28, 33)
But… Jesus makes this promise: “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25 NIV). We try so hard to save ourselves. We pursue success and approval and attractiveness and achievement, and none of it can bring lasting joy or peace. Allowing Jesus to be king of kings and lord of lords in our individual lives is the sure and only path to the kingdom of God. Jim Elliot said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.” God save us from foolishly clutching control of our lives; show us what joy and peace and purpose we can have within Your kingdom.
So when I ask God to build His kingdom here, I am surrendering everything to His lordship. But oh, what a King He is. In His Kingdom we have righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Our Prince of Peace rules over an everlasting kingdom where we are not only delivered from the power of darkness, but we are eternally safe because we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken! In His kingdom we have protection, purpose, affection, and power. We are free from sin, sickness, death, absurdity and chaos. We have unbroken fellowship with our King and each other. This is the kingdom Jesus offers, and it is His good pleasure to give it to us!*
Jesus, build Your kingdom here!
By Your mercy, Father, I present my body to You as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to You, which is my reasonable service. Help me not to conform to this world, but rather be transformed by the renewing of my mind, that I may prove Your good and acceptable and perfect will. You must increase, and I must decrease. Romans 12:2, John 3:30
Father, I count myself dead to sin but alive to You through Christ Jesus. Through Your strength, I will not let sin reign in my body so that I obey its evil desires. I will not offer any part of myself as an instrument of wickedness. Instead, I offer myself to You as an instrument of righteousness, because You have brought me from death to life. Sin shall never again be my master, because I am not longer under the law, but under Your grace. Romans 6:11-14 NIV
Father, I am serious about living this new resurrection life with You. I want to pursue the things that are important to You, not shuffling along with my eyes to the ground, only absorbed by the things right in front of me. I want to look up, to be alert to You are doing, see things from Your perspective.
My old life is dead. My new life, which is my real life- even though invisible to others- is with Christ in You. He is my life.
And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever I feel like when I feel like it, grabbing whatever attracts my fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by You… and I want to be done with that old life…. From now on, I want to be defined by Christ, included with everyone who is in Christ. Colossians 3:1-11 MSG
Jesus, help me understand this truth: whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Your sake will find it. Teach me how to lose my life for You. Teach me how to walk by Your Spirit, so I will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Everything is worthless compared to the infinite value of knowing You, Jesus. For your sake I want to discard everything else, counting it all as garbage, so I may gain You. Matthew 16:25, Galatians 5:16, Philippians 3:8
Father, Your Word says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and all things have become new. I don’t really feel like a new creation, Lord, but because Your Word is true, please help me act like one. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Build Your Kingdom Here by Rend Collective
Refrain: Build Your kingdom here/ Let the darkness fear/ Show Your mighty hand/ Heal our streets and land/ Set Your church on fire/ Win this nation back/ Change the atmosphere/ Build Your kingdom here/ We pray
Come set Your rule and reign/ In our hearts again/ Increase in us we pray/ Unveil why we're made/ Come set our hearts ablaze with hope/ Like wildfire in our very souls/ Holy Spirit come invade us now/ We are Your Church/ We need Your power/ In us
We seek Your kingdom first/ We hunger and we thirst/ Refuse to waste our lives/ For You're our joy and prize/ To see the captive hearts released/ The hurt; the sick; the poor at peace/ We lay down our lives for Heaven's cause/ We are Your church/ We pray revive/ This Earth
Unleash Your kingdom's power/ Reaching the near and far/ No force of hell can stop/ Your beauty changing hearts/ You made us for much more than this/ Awake the kingdom seed in us/ Fill us with the strength and love of Christ/ We are Your church/ We are the hope/ On earth
* Romans 14:17, Isaiah 9:6, Psalm 145: 12, Colossians 1:13, Hebrews 12:28, Luke 12:32