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God loves us and wants us to be happy. That’s an important aspect for us to keep in mind as we go through life living in this “already – not yet” kingdom of God. Paul reminds us in Romans 14 that the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, something the Roman Christians were losing track of, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. I like Wikipedia’s definition of joy; the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune, and is typically associated with feelings of intense, long lasting happiness.

That’s what God wants for his people. Intense, long lasting happiness. God’s people in Rome were getting all worked up about what foods were clean to eat and what foods weren’t, and were passing judgment on one another and condemning each other. Paul tells them in verse 14 that he personally, was convinced that nothing is unclean in itself, but if it distressed his brother in the Lord, that he would not eat certain types of food, because that would not be acting in love.

Acting in love is what God did for us in rescuing, redeeming and restoring us; in bringing us into his kingdom through the blood of Jesus the Messiah. Bringing us into his kingdom is all about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It is about well-being, thriving and flourishing. It is about feelings of intense, long lasting happiness.

Jesus speaks about the kingdom of God in terms of joy as well. In Matthew 13:44 Jesus says the kingdom of heaven (or kingdom of God) is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. When he buys the field he is filled with feelings of intense, long lasting happiness.

When we buy into the kingdom of God, we too get to experience that same happiness.

For us to experience this joy, we must have the Holy Spirit. Living in the kingdom of God means living under the reign of the King. It is the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to the joy that awaits us in the kingdom and in the King, and who invites us to be a part of the kingdom. And it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to live in peace and to thrive with our kingdom brothers and sisters.

Paul writes in Ephesians 5 that we should be filled with the Spirit (18). When we are filled with the Spirit, we are filled with joy and sing and make music from our hearts to the Lord (19). This also gives us the ability and desire to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (21). The Holy Spirit opens our spiritual eyes to a strange, new realization that goes against the grain of this world’s general operating system. That realization being that we will be happier people, not by domineering other people, but by submitting to other people. Not by ruling, but by serving. Not by throwing our weight around but by throwing our energy into helping others.

So, we may not be judging each other or condemning one another about what we are eating and drinking, but there is a fair amount of strife among Christians about different political and social issues. We can’t bury our heads in the sand when it comes to these issues and act like they don’t exist or are not important. But we also shouldn’t condemn to hell as reprobates those who hold different opinions than we do. We should remember, and, with the power of the Holy Spirit, live in the kingdom of God together as righteous, peace loving, children of God, and that will fill us with joy.


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