Kingdom Minded

By Lauren Chapin
In Formed
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In times such as these, you don’t have to work very hard to find negativity. Just log on to Twitter or look at your not-so-friendly neighborhood Facebook page. Among all of the “what kind of snake is this” posts, and the “what should we pick up for dinner” posts, there are many comments from people complaining about community members, stating their political opinions, and flat out roasting other people for their opinions, thoughts, or behavior. Seriously, if I see one more “how dare you do that in this time” or “COVID is a hoax and this is dumb” post, I may very well lose my mind. How are we as Christians supposed to respond in hard times? Or more specifically, how do we remain focused on the kingdom of God in hard times?

When I think about someone who exemplified this in the Bible, I automatically think of the apostle Paul. Talk about a guy who stayed positive in hard times! Paul was arrested and falsely imprisoned in Rome. In the book of Philippians, Paul is writing a letter to the church in Philippi while imprisoned. One of the most remarkable statements made by Paul in this letter is found in chapter 1, verses 12 and 13. Paul writes to the church, “I want you to know brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.”

Notice here what Paul doesn’t do: he doesn’t say “woe is me, my life is so hard,” he doesn’t complain about the evil people imprisoning him, he doesn’t harshly attack anyone causing his circumstances. Even in the worst of times and the worst of situations, Paul remains confident and encouraging of the work being done in and through him. I believe that we can take four specific application points from Paul in the book of Philippians to help us understand how to remain kingdom focused in hard times.

1. Pray

    One of the best things you can do in hard times is to pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (authored by our buddy Paul) tells us to “pray without ceasing.” Pray even when you don’t feel like it. Prayer is like a direct phone line to God. He hears our prayers and he does not forget them. So why wouldn’t we call him? Specifically, pray for your neighbors, for your friends and family, co-workers, first responders, government officials, believers, and non-believers. Don’t know where to start? Paul gives us a great example in Philippians 1:9, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

    Pray this prayer of encouragement. This is a great place to start! We see even further in the book that when we pray and bring our requests and worries to God that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). Prayer is powerful, and it is one of the best ways to stay focused on the kingdom of God in hard times.

    2. Serve

      Serve your community. Find specific needs and meet them. Paul exemplifies this in Philippians 2:3-4 when he says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Whether it be material, financial, time, or physical, there are numerous ways to meet needs in your community. Anyone can serve! Make bags for a homeless shelter, volunteer for a shift at the food pantry, write notes to first responders, chalk positive notes on the sidewalk, or donate to charity. Just as Jesus came to serve, we as believers have the opportunity to reflect Christ through service.

      3. Encourage

        Specifically, in hard times, Christians have the incredible opportunity to be set apart for the gospel, specifically by encouraging those around us. It seems that in hard times, negativity surrounds us. Whether that be the news, gossip, or social media, one way that we can remain kingdom minded is to be voices of encouragement in the midst of the negativity. Three times in the book, Paul speaks of “rejoicing in the Lord” (3:1, 4:4). I’ve always thought of this as rather broad. Like, what exactly does it mean to rejoice in the Lord?

        When I was little, I used to love the book Jump for Joy by Megan Halsey. Now, this book is actually one that teaches kids the months of the year, but that’s not what I remember most about this book. What I remember most is the cover: four kids, all dressed differently, experiencing different seasons, all jumping up and down in excitement and celebration. This is what I picture when I think of rejoicing in the Lord. People, from all walks of life, with all different experiences, in all different life situations, all celebrating one common thing—Jesus. It doesn’t matter what season we are in, or what is going on in the world, we all have one reason to celebrate and that is the Lord and the work he has done, is doing, and will do in the future. In hard times, we can become what Paul refers to as “lights in the world” pointing others to the one true light of the Gospel and the coming Kingdom. Share the gospel with someone, tell people you are praying for them (and then actually do it!). Be the voice of positivity and hope; be a beaming light in the dark, pointing people to the ultimate good news: the salvific work of Jesus Christ.

        4. Hope

          Finally, one of the most distinct ways that we as Christians can stay kingdom minded in hard times is to think with the end in mind. We need to remember what the kingdom of God is about. Shifting gears, a bit here, I want us to look at the book of Revelation in chapter 21. “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:3-4). It is here that we gain a beautiful picture of the coming kingdom. This is the hope that we have been waiting for. One day, the Lord will restore all things. There will be no more suffering, pain, and death. There will be no more viruses, cancer, car accidents, or murders. The earth will be restored to its full glory and the Lord will once again dwell with his people in the New Eden.

          So as Christians, in hard times, we are called to live with hope. Putting our faith in this: the Lord will fulfill what he has promised, and that ultimate restoration is coming soon. In the last chapter of Philippians, Paul demonstrates hope. He says, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:12-13). Furthermore, he solidifies this hope by stating, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” We as Christians have this hope. We can suffer righteously by focusing on the end, what is ultimately coming for the kingdom of God. We wait with patience, anxiously awaiting the fulfillment of the promise, trusting the Lord when he says, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5). Oh come, Lord Jesus come.


          God is calling us, the people of Irving Bible Church, to become a multi-ethnic movement of missionary disciples, formed in the way of Jesus for the sake of the world.

          We want to be a transformed people who experience vibrant spiritual growth together. We want the Spirit of God to shape us more and more into the likeness of Jesus as we follow him.

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