One of my classes this semester is a marriage counseling class, taught by Dr. Paul Tripp (he's pretty legit, and has the mustache to prove it). Anyway, while it's been enlightening for me as a married person and a marriage "counselor", it's also been enlightening for me as a Christian in general. One of the main themes he talks about is the war between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Self.
Luke 17:21 says "the Kingdom of God is within you" or "among you"...which means that it's not just this heavenly place where we'll all sit on clouds and play harps- it's a place where God is King. God can be King within me when I choose to forgo that extra 10 minutes of sleep and help my husband study his Hebrew flashcards (believe me, that's a HUGE sacrifice for the Kingdom of Hannah) or when I choose to offer the bigger piece of cake to someone who might not actually see me take the better one for myself (again, big Hannah sacrifices..) and God is King within our midst when we as a group of believers submit ourselves and listen to His voice.
So that's all well and good- easy for my to wrap my mind around. But recently Dr. Tripp threw a wrench into my two-dimensional understanding of all this when he started talking about how often we're so blind to our sin that we let the Kingdom of Self parade as the Kingdom of God.
Most people who know me know I'm passionate about international missions. I get so swept away with ideas of "following God's call" and "giving my life away" and poetic generalizations about going "to the ends of the earth" etc. etc. Now I really believe that desire is from God and that missions is an incredible, wonderful, important, and non-negotiable aspect of every Christian's life, BUT when my (delusional) vision that I have for my own future becomes something that keeps me from living well in the present, that's not the Kingdom of God. When I create a hierarchy of holiness and decide that serving others in Africa is "better" than serving others in Dallas, that's not the Kingdom of God. When my discernment about the failings of the church in America (whether or not they're accurate) causes me to become bitter and sarcastic, that's not the Kingdom of God. What's scary is often I think these symptoms are evidence of holiness when in fact they're evidence of hypocrisy.
So all that to say, God is revealing a lot of the deception that is in my heart and teaching me more about what He is truly like, and how He truly calls me to live. More on this later :)