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18 January, 2014

A kingdom of one. Whose kingdom is it, anyway?

The word kingdom isn’t used very often, but we do hear it used from time.  “Animal Kingdom” is often used to refer to “a category of living organisms comprising all animals”.  Disney has gathered a group of animals together in what is popularly known as “Disney’s Animal Kingdom.”   
We read in history books about ancient kingdoms, identified as a group of people living in one geographical area being ruled by a king. There are still some kingdoms in existence today, though their influence is not as strong as they were in the past. The United Kingdom is often referred to as the UK.  Here in Uganda there are four kingdoms that remain a part of culture, a part of life and are still recognized by the government.
One characteristic of kingdoms is that they have one ruler.  For the United Kingdom it is now a queen.   Here in Uganda each kingdom has a king.  The role of the king in any kingdom is to lead, guide and rule over the kingdom.  
The role of the people within kingdoms is to follow and submit to the authority of the king over them.  Each kingdom can only have one king.   Could you imagine the difficulties if there were two kings in a kingdom?  The king has been given the authority, and is assumed to have the wisdom, to lead. 
As people, regardless of our culture or geographical location, we all allow some “king” to rule us, putting us in his kingdom.  The question we each need to ask ourselves is, “Whose kingdom do I belong to?”
Sometimes the attitudes behind slogans can draw us into kingdoms we might not otherwise enter. The slogan makes the king sound like one we want to follow. Everywhere we turn we are confronted with and potentially influenced by slogans such as
“Just Do it!”
“Have it Your Way”
"Because I'm Worth It"
"Yes, You Can"
"Get. Watch. Do What You Want."
Each one of these slogans can influence us to put our allegiance to the king of self. This can easily turn into having a kingdom of one, where self is on the throne.  In this kingdom of one the focus is all about me, myself and what I need, want or desire.     
Recently,  I’ve been reading the book A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger Than You” (Paul David Trapp).  In it the author talks about this kingdom of one, of self, as the “little kingdom.”  The kingdom is little in the sense that it is a kingdom that has shrunk down to only the size of my life.  Here is an excerpt:  “In a fallen world there is a powerful pressure to constrict your life to the shape and size of your life. There is a compelling tendency to forget who you are and what you were made for. There is a tendency to be shortsighted, myopic, and easily distracted. There is a tendency to settle for less when you have been created for more.”  
Further, Trapp writes, “There is woven inside each of us a desire for something more— a craving to be part of something bigger, greater, and more profound than our relatively meaningless day-by-day existence.”  We were created to be part of a big kingdom of The One (and only).  We are created for the Kingdom of God, with Christ at the center.    
Daily I choose the answer to the questions, “To whose authority do I submit to? Whose kingdom am I in?”   The challenge before me is to remember I do belong to the big kingdom. The big kingdom of The One, God’s Kingdom, in which Christ is on the throne, not me.