TRUTH #3

My Kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my Kingdom is from another place.  (John 18:36)

Jesus’ Kingdom does not make sense to us.

Depending on what biblical scholar you talk to, Jesus used as many as 56 parables, most of them he used to explain the Kingdom of Heaven.   The natural questions most always follow: Why would Jesus disguise the truths about His kingdom by telling stories – most of them very difficult to interpret?  Why wouldn’t He simply tell us with a list of “pros” and “cons”?  Jesus gives us the answers to these questions in numerous places throughout the gospels.  In Matthew 13 Jesus tells us that the secrets of the kingdom of heaven will be revealed to those who seek, but you must have eyes to see and hears to hear.  Doesn’t sound like a seeker-sensitive message to me — some will get it, some won’t and I’m not going to force people to get it, not only am I not going to force people to get it, I’m going to make it difficult for them to get it, I’m going to speak through parables so that I can fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:9).  Jesus does however give us some clues as to what His kingdom might look like.  Take this incomplete list for example:

Love you enemies (Matt. 5:34)

Rejoice in suffering (James 1:2-4)

If someone strikes you on your right cheek, offer him your left (Luke 6:29)

If a soldier asks you to carry his pack a mile, carry it two (Matt. 5:41)

Give everything to the poor (Luke 18:22)

If a man sues you for your shirt, give him your coat as well (Matt. 5:40)

The first will be last and the last first (Matt. 20:16)

You must die to truly live (Phil. 1:21)

While we traveled from city to city last year, many times, Serenity would use our sidewalk chalk and write

“The Kingdom of God is nearer than you think.”

This is important.  Many of us, when talking about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven can quickly move to thinking of the streets of gold.  When Jesus taught us how to pray in Matthew 6, He prays that “[God’s] kingdom come, [God’s] will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Our focus should be on living how Jesus lived — today.  We should be obsessed with bringing His glory to this earth in our cities, our towns, and our neighborhoods, not just looking to the skies for the rapture — He will come like a thief in the night anyhow.  How do we do this?  I think we can start with emulating what Jesus told us in His inaugural address — the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).

Even the disciples had a skewed view of what Jesus’ kingdom was going to look like.  Many joined this miracle maker because they believed He would raise a large army and march into Jerusalem, over-throwing the current ‘king of the Jews’ (Herod) and place himself in the position and in doing so would put himself in direct opposition to their Roman oppressors.  I’m guessing that most of the disciples would not have followed Jesus if they knew ahead of time that He would be crucified within three years.  Some scholars have guessed that as many as half of the twelve disciples were recruited from the ranks of the Zealots, a violent revolutionary group who wanted to overthrow Rome.  Judas Iscariot, because of the similarity of his name with Sicarii, is thought to have been part of the extremist revolutionary movement known as the Sicarii (named for the curved blade of their daggers — much like a mini sickle).  Imagine what they were thinking when Jesus told them to love their enemies.

None of it makes any sense — in this present kingdom.  How can the U.S. demonstrate power or develop “peace through strength” (which is ironically the same slogan the Roman Empire had — the same ones who crucified Christ) if we simply love our enemies.  We can’t protect our harbors and our airports by simply loving Al Queda.  How can we negotiate with Kim Jong-il and the irrational North Koreans — just give them hugs?  If you don’t think that would work you would probably be right — if you are thinking about this kingdom.  We must move our thinking to His Kingdom, and in His Kingdom, success doesn’t look the same — it makes no sense.

“All things are possible, when we realize, things are not as though they seem.  All things are possible when we realize truth is not trapped by what is seen.”  Jason Upton, All Things Are Possible

I think the most beautiful example of this upside-down nature of Jesus is in His washing of the disciples feet.  Those who are last will be first.  We must make ourselves servants to all, and what better example can we have than God incarnate, the Savior of the world, making Himself nothing in order to demonstrate to us how we can tangibly bring His Kingdom to our little slice of this kingdom.

Slide 4

Love your enemies (Matt. 5:34)
Rejoice in suffering (James 1:2-4)
If someone strikes you on your right cheek, offer him your left (Luke 6:29)
If a soldier asks you to carry his pack a mile, carry it two (Matt. 5:41)
Give everything to the poor (Luke 18:22)
If a man sues you for your shirt, give him your coat too (Matt. 5:40)
The first will be last and the last first (Matt. 20:16)
You must die to truly live (Philippians 1:21)
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2 Responses

  1. Well written Andy. Amen and amen. Now, if I can just turn off talk radio……(-:

  2. Thank you for writing these truths. So challenging, and so real…I’m having trouble discerning what God wants me to do for some of the individuals here. Though truth #3 doesn’t give me any answers, it does calm my racing thoughts a bit.
    I’ve been thinking of your family often this week, telling lots of stories about you. You continue to be in my prayers as well.

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