Kingdom Culture: How Nathanael’s Perspective Changed

Two years ago, my husband Malcolm (aka ‘The Hunk’) and I began praying a prayer that has become a defining prayer for this season in our lives:

‘Father, teach us about Kingdom culture.’

Although we have been Christians for over 35 years, we are still coming to terms with what it means to have a Kingdom perspective.

It is not a religious worldview. It is the worldview of being a royal son or daughter of God.

A Disciple Called Nathanael

I love the story of Nathanael, found in John’s Gospel. (see John 1:43-50)

In order for Nathanael to follow Jesus, he has to undergo a change of perspective—from that of a traditional Jewish worldview, to the Kingdom perspective that Jesus demonstrates and teaches.

Nathanael will go on to experience the greatest move of God of all time—Jesus present ministering on earth, His death and resurrection, followed by Pentecost and the move of the Holy Spirit described in Acts. [1]

I believe that Nathanael’s story is a prophetic picture of where the church is today.

Nathanael’s 4 Shifts of Perspective

1. From Being a Servant of God to being a Son of God

In the opening chapter of John, we read,

‘Yet to all who did receive [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.’ (John 1:12)

Soon afterwards, John introduces us to Philip and Nathanael, among the first who receive Jesus.

Nathanael’s whole life and perspective are about to be challenged and changed. Up until this time he has seen himself as a follower of God, and a servant of God—but he is about to meet Jesus, who will introduce God as Father to him.

There are times when we need to ask the question, ‘Am I seeing myself for who I am—a royal son or daughter of God? Or am I seeing myself as a servant who labours for God?’

2. From a Future King and Kingdom to a Present King and Kingdom

Philip seeks out Nathanael and says, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45)

Judea is under Roman rule and occupation at this time. Nathanael, along with other devout Jews, has been waiting for the promised Messiah, and for the future establishment Of God’s Kingdom. [2]

And now Philip is announcing to Nathanael:

‘We do not have to wait for the Messiah any more. The King is here.’

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He demonstrates that the Kingdom is not only the future rule of God, but the current exercise of His rule in the here and now. [3]

Nathanael has to make the paradigm shift from a coming Messiah and a future Kingdom, to a present Messiah and God’s present Kingdom.

Questions we can ask are, ‘Am I waiting for God’s Kingdom, or am I living in His Kingdom? Do I recognize that the King is present and living in me?’

A sign that we are living in the Kingdom is that, like Jesus, we are disturbing the status quo.

3. From Human Reasoning to Divine Reality

As Philip says, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph’ Nathanael’s response is:

“Nazareth? Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46)

Nathanael has a good line of reasoning. Scripture does not indicate that the Messiah will come out of Nazareth. He does not yet know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

Sometimes, like Nathanael, we can be offended with the ‘package’ that a move of God comes in and be in danger of missing a gift from God.

  • Can anything good come out of my church, my town, city or nation? Yes!
  • Can anything good come from my life—or the life of others around me, with our known weaknesses and flaws? Yes!

Instead of seeing others and ourselves according to their history, we need to see as God sees—according to our destiny.

4. From a Future Move of God to a Present Move of God

Up until now, Nathanael has studied past revivals and moves of God in the scriptures. He has lived in expectation of a future move of God that would establish God’s Kingdom.

Now Jesus promises Nathanael is that he will see an open heaven.’ (John 1:49-51) This will take place as Nathanael spends the next three years walking with Jesus, the One Who is the fulfilment of Bethel.

On the day of Pentecost the heavens will open over the waiting church and the Holy Spirit will be poured out.

Today we can ask, ‘What is my perspective concerning revival?’

We do not need to live with only the dreams of the past, or hopes of a future move of God.

We do not need to wait for revival, or yearn for an open heaven. These things are already available and are our inheritance through Christ. [4]


Notes:

[1] Nathanael continued as a disciple throughout the time of Jesus ministry as he shows up again in John chapter 21—after the resurrection of Jesus.

Many scholars believe that Nathanael and Bartholomew (who is listed as one of the twelve in the 3 other Gospels) are one and the same person.

[2] See also Mark 15:43

[3] Jesus exercised the rule of the Kingdom, but He also looked forward to the Kingdom to come in fulness in the future. (Matt 26:29)

The future establishment of God’s Kingdom gives us hope and anticipation in the face of sickness and death.

We live in the tension of the Kingdom that is present, but also yet to come in its fullness—what is spoken of as the ‘now and not yet.’

For more on this topic, see ‘ABC’s Of The Kingdom Of God.’

[4] For more on this topic, see the articles, ‘No Longer Waiting For Revival’ and ‘An Open Heaven Is Your Inheritance.’

See also the related post, ‘How Your Perspective Can Impact Your Destiny.’


© Helen Calder, Enliven Ministries: Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching


4 thoughts on “Kingdom Culture: How Nathanael’s Perspective Changed

  1. Karen

    How perfectly timed this is!! Thank you heaps and heaps. Confirmation on what’s been on my heart – every word!! Especially – Can anything good come out of my church, my town, city or nation? and Can anything good come from my life—or the life of others around me, with our known weaknesses and flaws? YES!!!

    Thank you for teaching me. How we can so limit ourselves by where we set our sights.

    Watch out people – Karen’s perspective is changing!!

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Yes Karen! We serve the God who turned water into wine and places His glory in us ordinary human vessels 🙂 May your faith continue to be enlarged, and may His power be released in and through you. I have preached on this a couple of times, but as I reworked it for this blog article, I felt the revelation of it increase. It is wonderful to be on the journey with you.

  2. wildlittlefan

    I always enjoy your articles since they will always fill in with good educational resources that will enrich my mind in God’s work. I like the idea of kingdom at present. We don’t just get the salvation ticket and doing nothing but waiting to get up to heaven. We surely need to share the gosple with others with the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s how we can lead more people into the kingdom and help others to experience the heaven at present as well. God bless you.

  3. Helen Calder Post author

    Thanks so much! Such a wonderful point…We need to understand the fulness of what is available to us so that we can make the use of our time now–not just for ourselves, but for the many who don’t know Jesus.

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