The Kingdom, by Witness Lee

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Matthew 10 reveals another principle of the kingdom. Although our leprosy has been cleansed and faith is here for our enjoyment of Christ, we must realize that human culture stands in opposition to the kingdom of God. The primary elements of human culture are religion, politics, and the family life. Human culture is the best invention of mankind. However, we have to realize that Satan in a subtle way utilizes human culture to oppose God’s kingdom. You may think that only sinful things are against the kingdom, but according to the Bible, sinful things do not oppose the kingdom of God as much as human culture. It has become the stronghold of Satan. Satan maintains a hold on human culture, utilizing it as his kingdom. Human culture has become a basic part and a great portion of the kingdom of Satan. We need a revelation of this fact.

Chapters eight and nine of Matthew present a wonderful picture. Regardless of how much Satan has ruined and corrupted man, the Lord Jesus has come to wipe it out. By His appearing, leprosy is gone and faith has come. By looking at the Lord Jesus, faith comes. When we look at Him, we have faith, and by this faith we enjoy Him. At this point, though, the Lord Jesus was wise in warning us, the kingdom people, about the opposition of human culture that is constituted with the family, religion, and politics.

In Matthew 10:16-22 the Lord said that He was sending the kingdom people forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. He went on to say that they would be delivered up to Sanhedrins and scourged in the synagogues. The Sanhedrins were the strongest organization of the Jewish religion at that time, and the synagogues were the places where the Jewish people met to worship God. Yet, it is in the synagogues that the kingdom people will be scourged. This reveals that the religious people will persecute the kingdom people.

The Lord also said that they will be brought before governors and kings, a clear reference to the political people. These verses tell us that both religion and politics are against the kingdom of God. Why are they opposed to God’s kingdom? It is because they have their own kingdoms; religion is a kingdom for religious people, and politics is a kingdom for political people. King Herod was troubled when he heard the news of the birth of the Lord Jesus because he was afraid of losing his kingdom. The situation is the same today. The entire human culture stands in opposition to the kingdom of the heavens. Which religion was so much against the kingdom? It was not a pagan religion, but the typical religion of Judaism. The people who worshipped God in the temple and in the synagogues were the persecutors of the kingdom people. If we go along with human culture and religion, we will be welcomed and not persecuted. But if we are for the Lord’s kingdom, religion will oppose us. That was the situation when the Lord Jesus and the Apostles were on the earth. If we mean business with the Lord’s kingdom, we will experience the same opposition today.

After the Lord spoke about religion and politics, He referred to the family (v. 21). The Lord spoke about fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and other family relations (Matt. 10:35-37). Not all of your relatives will be in favor of the kingdom. The situation is the same today as then. Don’t think that people are nicer today than then. The cultured people may be even tougher and more severe than the uncultured people. I am not encouraging you to damage your family life, to be an enemy toward your father, or to persecute your wife. If you read the Lord’s word carefully, you will see that the kingdom people should be the persecuted ones, not the persecuting ones. We should not be the enemies, and we should not be the persecutors. We have to be the persecuted ones. We should flee if we can, but if we cannot, we must suffer. According to other portions of the Bible, we must pray for the opposers and the persecutors (Matt. 5:44). We must love them and pray that they will become the same as we are. Mainly, we need to realize this principle: the whole of human culture opposes the kingdom of God.

We should not be disturbed by this because the opposition of human culture can become our "gasoline station" where we can purchase the extra portion of oil for our vessel (Matt. 25:9). This means we take the opportunity to pay the price of losing our soul-life (Matt. 10:38-39). The price we must pay is our soul-life. Sometimes a husband is caught for the kingdom, but his wife remains a part of human culture. In such a case the husband must lose his soul-life. The Lord Jesus spoke clearly about these matters. He has never cheated us. He said that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matt. 10:34).

The Lord Jesus really troubled Judaism, including all the priests. And He created many "troublemakers"—first twelve, then seventy—and sent out these "troublemakers" to create even more trouble. If we in the local churches mean business with the Lord about His kingdom, and if we are faithful to the kingdom, we will cause more trouble to today’s Christianity, because today’s Christianity has become a constituent of human culture. Since Christianity is a strong factor of contemporary culture, it becomes the strongest opposition to the kingdom of God. There can be no reconciliation between the local churches and Christianity. The more the local churches go on in the kingdom and as the kingdom, the more trouble we will cause to human culture. We all need to realize this. This is one of the many principles of the kingdom revealed in the book of Matthew.

(The Kingdom, Chapter 22, by Witness Lee)