The ringtone shattered the suspense scene. Mima jumped. She took a moment to calm down, then paused the movie and picked up her phone.
“Mima, Hi! I’m doing our maths assignment, and I’m stuck on part five of task B. I was wondering if you could come over and explain a few things.”
“Uhhh…” being a natural mathematician came with a significant downside. Classmates constantly asked her for help. “I’m kind of busy at the moment. But, you know, Jenny might be able to help.”
There was silence on the other end. Mima cringed.
“…Uh yeah, okay. I’ll give her a ring,” Sarah said, “thanks anyway.”
Mima breathed a sigh of relief. She hadn’t lost her afternoon of Netflix binge watching. She rewound to rewatch her precious lost seconds of the movie’s climax. This was the life.
Last week, we looked at what a kingdom is. I don’t claim that this is the only way (or the best way) of considering a kingdom’s make-up, but I reasoned that there are three components of any kingdom:
- A reigning monarch
- A community/people
- a system by which the reigning monarch governs its people
We started from this framework and used it to explore what the kingdom of God is. Today, using the same framework, let’s explore the “kingdom of self”.
NOTE: the “kingdom of self” is no official term. As far as I’m aware, it’s not used in the Bible and I don’t know how common it is among people, today. I simply use the term to refer to the “kingdom” we’re about to discuss.
Also, note that the kingdom of self is a delusion.
#1. The reigning monarch
Each person is the reigning monarch in his/her own “kingdom of self”. Again, I want to stress that this is a delusion. We don’t actually have all that much influence on the unfolding of events. The Bible reminds us of this:
And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.
But we have this tendency to imagine ourselves as more important than others. We imagine that our own interests, aspirations, and desires are more worthy of attention than anyone else’s. Each of us has a tendency to imagine that we’re the reigning monarch in our own kingdom.
#2. The community/people
This point goes hand-in-hand with the first. In each person’s own kingdom, he/she imagine’s others to be his/her people. This isn’t to say that we literally believe that we own or govern these people, but we live as though we do. This is true to different degrees for different people, and it manifests itself in different ways. But generally, we expect other people to listen to our problems or praise us for our successes. We feel that people should change their plans to accommodate for our own. It’s our tendency.
#3. The system by which the reigning monarch governs its people
Each individual governs his/her own kingdom “according to what they like want or feel”. That’s the system boiled down to one statement. The system governing the kingdom consists of whatever the person in question desires. It’s a way of life. It’s all manner of doing anything that pleases “self”. You might say it’s everything that suits our purposes and serves to get us closer to our own goals.
In summary, the kingdom of self is each person’s delusion that other people must submit to us according to our own agenda.
Care to discuss it?
- How does it feel to read about the “kingdom of self”? Why do you think it might make us feel uncomfortable or upset?
- What are some problems with the whole system of the “kingdom of self”?
- How is the “kingdom of self” different to the Kingdom of God, which we discussed last week?
- Is living for the kingdom of self the only way of life?