Christ, when He returns, will give His people authority in God's Kingdom. Have you wondered how you will be able to manage part of God's government? Let's use our imaginations to travel forward in time a few years.
Picture the Millennium. Christ has returned, and God's Church has been born into His Family. Some have been raised from the dead. Others were instantly changed from mortal to immortal when the last trump sounded.
Together for the first time, all God's chosen people stand before their powerful and triumphant cider brother, Jesus Christ, waiting to receive their positions of responsibility and service in the new world government.
Now it's your turn. As you come before Jesus, you sense the power radiating from Him. No wonder those ancient Israelites trembled with fear when they first saw the signs of His presence at Mt. Sinai!
But you have nothing to fear. The look in those shining eyes, more brilliant than a thousand suns, is one of friendship and recognition. You realize that Jesus Christ knows who you are. It is as if He, too, has been anticipating this moment.
And then, with a voice more powerful than the most powerful waterfall, but full of warmth and enthusiasm, Jesus Christ says the words you have been waiting to hear:
"Well done, you good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in the things I gave you to do, you have overcome and you endured to the end. Welcome to the Kingdom of God." Then He adds, "I am going to give you authority over 10 cities."
A dream? Yes, but it is the realistic dream of many people now reading this magazine. It is a dream that will one day come true.
But wait a minute. The readers of The Good News are just ordinary people — an American construction worker, a British housewife, a Filipino farmer, a young Nigerian university student. How can people like that be qualified to rule a city? What do they — what do you — know about it?
Responsibilities of rulership Did you ever stop to think about what must be done to manage a city, or even a small town? Water and power must be provided, streets and roads have to be planned and a building code must be established. Garbage must be collected. Disposal of sewage must be arranged.
And what about transportation, a school system, shops and places of entertainment? Taxes must be collected and the funds appropriated for the thousands of expenses needed to keep a town running properly.
What do you know about all that? Some of the best minds in the world today can't make our towns and cities work. So what makes you think you are going to do any better in the world tomorrow? How can you teach what you don't know?
Discouraged? Don't be. Read on.
The world that Christ returns to will need urgent help. He will find it battered from Satan's rule and horribly chastened by the Day of the Lord.
The book of Revelation shows how the Great Tribulation and the trumpet plagues will devastate civilization.
Communications networks will be in ruins. Transportation will have broken down. Dams will have been destroyed and bridges will have collapsed. Once-great cities will be nothing but smoking piles of rubble. The ecosystem will have been badly damaged.
But, starting from Jerusalem, the healing and rebuilding will commence. Representatives of once-proud nations will make their way to Christ's seat of government, to be taught His ways and learn His paths (Isa. 2:3).
And they will find that the Kingdom of God is ready and eager to help. It will also be competent. Christ will have a team with all the expertise necessary to show humanity how to live. If you are to be a part of that team, Christ will have to see to it that you are qualified to help.
"But I have had no experience running a city!" you may say. "How will I be ready?"
Has, perhaps, Christ been wrong in choosing the "weak things of the world" (I Cor. 1:27) to qualify for His Kingdom? Perhaps it would have been better to have picked His people from among the mayors and governors of the world today. Perhaps He should have selected the most able civil engineers, town-planning experts, telecommunication operators and those with experience in big business and large construction projects.
Instead, we find that "not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" (verse 26). Is that going to prove to be a mistake?
No. Jesus Christ knows exactly what He is doing. When He returns, His world-ruling team will be ready and able to rule.
The missing dimension in knowledge To understand how this is possible, we need to remind ourselves again just what it is that has gone wrong with this world.
For 6,000 years, since Adam rejected the kind of knowledge that could only come from God, humans have tried to find a way of life that works. We have failed in every aspect except one. The:; human race has proved itself more than adequate in solving technical problems. Especially in the last 100 years, breakthroughs in all areas of technology have transformed the world.
Man has demonstrated that he can learn how to harness the power of mighty rivers or string bridges across great chasms. He knows how to build highways and railroads over soaring mountains and searing deserts. He can drill for oil beneath the Arctic ice. He has split the atom, made an artificial heart and regularly travels into space.
But at the beginning of the Millennium, after the destruction at the end of this age, the world will have realized that all the knowledge of physical things has not produced a way of life that worked. It may have seemed right for a while, but it will have led us to the very brink of destruction.
Only Christ's intervention will save all flesh from extinction. And God will not just allow man to begin blindly rebuilding. Christ will restore the government of God to show this world God's way of life and to teach God's laws. That is what the nations will go to Jerusalem to learn. It is knowledge that they have known nothing about. They must learn it from the beginning, like little children.
But you will know it! You are learning it all the time. God through His Spirit is teaching you a new way to live of sharing, cooperating, helping, humility and loving your neighbor as yourself. That is the way God lives, and if you are being led by His Spirit you are learning to live that way, too. You are discovering that it produces peace.
At the moment, you probably only have the opportunity to live that way on a small scale. You have a small family and perhaps a rather average job. Your income may not be great, or maybe you just have a small plot of land to take care of. Perhaps you are single, old or crippled. Maybe you are even in jail. But whoever you are, you should be making progress in learning to live your life God's way.
You are learning now But can that really qualify you to rule a city — to tackle the complex administrative, organizational and personal problems that come up all the time when several thousand families live together?
Yes, it can. Problems in the world today seem more complex than they actually are, because the nature of the problems is not understood. The apostle James showed the real cause of strife in the world: "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war [to get more]. Yet you do not have because you do not ask" (Jas. 4:1- 2).
In other words, our problems are caused by human nature, expressed in jealousy, resentment, vanity, lust and greed.
Struggles between nations today are really only small problems grown big. The problem of two major powers locked in a hot war may seem more complex than two neighbors fighting over the back fence. But it is essentially the same — they know no other way to settle disputes. Whether it is nations or individuals, "The way of peace they have not known" (Rom. 3:17).
And if the cause is the same, the solution is the same — love. tolerance, forgiveness, sharing, helping and giving. That way produces peace, happiness and prosperity. It works between people. Given a chance, it would work between nations.
And so Jesus Christ does not need to see you in action on a large scale to know whether you know how to administer the laws that lead to peace. He sees it now, by the way you solve the problems of your own life.
You, in spite of your limited experience, will indeed have the ability to teach others the way of peace in the world tomorrow. God does not need to see you in action ruling 10 cities to determine whether you know how to apply and observe His law. He can see, by the simple decisions you make every day in your life, whether you will obey Him or go the way of the world.
Be faithful in small things Let's take, for example, your relationship with your wife, your husband or your children. How do you solve problems among yourselves? By shouting, yelling and expressing bad attitudes? Or are you showing God that you know a better way?
What about finances? Would you handle the treasure of a city like so many rulers today, and enrich yourself at others expense? God can tell by the way you handle your employer's money and the time your employer pays you for, by your attitude toward taxes that you must "render unto Caesar," by what you do with God's tithe.
As Jesus said, "If you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?" (Luke 16:12). And notice verse 10: "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much."
If you learn to be faithful and loyal in small things, God knows that you will be that way when given much greater responsibility. This is clearly shown by the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, starting with verse 14. Let's pick the story up in verses 20 and 21, after the ruler had returned and asked his servants to give account of their stewardship:
"So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents... His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over few things, I will make you ruler over many things.'"
Jesus was showing that He could tell if His people were developing the qualities of proper rulership by the way they handled the small matters of their lives. The servant who misused his position of trust was disqualified (verses 24-30). He couldn't be trusted.
What kind of decisions do you make? The decisions required to live God's way are really very simple — they are basically a matter of saying yes or no to God's law.
It doesn't have to be complicated. God did not test Adam and Eve on some gigantic, complex problem to see whether or not they would be obedient. He tested them in one of the most basic areas: What were they going to eat? They succumbed to temptation and ate of the one fruit in the garden that God had forbidden. Faced with a relatively simple decision, they made the wrong choice.
Don't be too quick to judge Adam and Eve — you have been making the same kind of wrong choices in simple decisions all your life.
You don't have to be a Hitler or an Idi Amin to prove you are unsuitable to rule over others. The way you treat your wife, your children or your friends shows Christ what kind of a ruler you will be. Are you short-tempered, hard to get along with, rebellious, uncooperative, unfair?
Christ needs to know that now, before He trusts you with a major responsibility over many people. The Kingdom of God is going to bring peace to the world, not more strife. Those who will rule must show God now that they are learning the way of peace.
Every day brings a thousand and one little decisions that show God whether you are learning His way or not.
God's way to be taught Right now, most leaders in the world are. not interested in learning this way. They consider it foolish, unrealistic and simplistic. Their quest for peace and prosperity will continue — damming more rivers, splitting more atoms, developing ever more miraculous machines. Treaties will be made and broken, and the wonderful inventions of science will inevitably be turned into engines of destruction. This world, based on physical knowledge, is destined to come crashing down.
Among the survivors will undoubtedly be architects, civil engineers, artists and others with the technical skill to start rebuilding. But they will realize that their way of doing things was wrong. They will see that it didn't and couldn't bring peace!
They will turn in humility and repentance to God, and ask to be shown another way.
God will no longer hide that way. In the Millennium, the knowledge of God's way of life will begin to fill the earth like the waters cover the ocean beds (Isa. 11:9). The information will be readily available: "Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers" (Isa. 30:20). As people begin to rebuild, if they start to make a mistake, they will "hear a word... saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left" (verse 21).
Those teachers will have to know the way. They can't teach what they don't know.
But if you have qualified to be in God's Kingdom, you will be among those who know the way. Christ will give you your reward with complete confidence. As you receive your authority to rule, you will also be given the power to go with the authority. The choices you will have to make will be on a much larger scale than now, but you will still make decisions the same way, knowing right from wrong.
Armed with that knowledge and that power, God's chosen people will be able to rule a city, five cities, even 10 cities — in the way of peace — for a thousand years.