I have been pondering on the nature of the “Kingdom of God” or in other words, the attributes that describe God and what he wants his people to value and reflect. Basically, how does God order things. What is most important? What is less important? If God could ask you to do one thing, what would it be?
Christians have VERY different answers to this question. We all have proclivities. Different comfort levels with different commands of God. But if we attest to follow Christ, and be “Christ like” our proclivities and the aim of our heart should reflect that of whom we follow. We should adopt the values and nature of our King that we serve. Similar to when you believe in an organization or company, you want to take their “mottos” or “agenda” and make that your own and spread them to others because you believe they work… Except for God’s kingdom is ultimate and higher than any made of man and deserves all importance. It is all together true, holy and trustworthy.
As I was thinking about this, God reminded me of the parables and the beatitudes that Jesus taught.
Have you heard a sermon like this in a while. . .
“Blessed is the poor in spirit…” (Mt. 5:2-11)
If you were to foster an attribute, would it be “poor in spirit”? He goes on…
“Blessed are those who mourn…. Blessed are those who are meek… blessed are you who others revile” (v. 4, 5 & 11)
When was the last time I felt blessed to be reviled? How does one even do that? Or “poor in spirit”. I spend most my time trying to be “good” and “all together”. When was the last time I was even ok with being “poor in spirit”, much more finding it a blessed or good thing!
“Blessed are the meek…”
Man, does frustration rise up inside me when I don’t get the honor I believe I deserve. And to be seen as “meek” by others, even worse! How many people can relate to my feelings?
Let me ask you as I also ask myself… Why do you think God calls these things blessed? Let’s think about it for a while. Why does God choose the foolish to confound the wise? Why is it not ONLY ok, but called “blessed” by Jesus to be called a meek, poor in spirit, mourning, reviled, least of these, Jesus follower? Here are a few thoughts:
The greatest love is to lay down your life for a friend (Jn. 15:13)
Jesus laid down his life to save us. To be with us. Immanuel. Jesus’ love for us required humbling himself from his throne of power to become a baby and live a hard and “unglory-filled” life for our sake. By the time he died on the cross, all his disciples basically left him. He fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 53:3, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces. He was despised, and we esteemed him not.” His disciples followed suit. Are we willing to follow?
We are not the answer
The plan of God’s redemption was never that we would be the answer. That our glory and performance would usher in the Kingdom. John the Baptist who paved the way for Jesus said, “I must become less, so that Jesus could be made much of” (John 3:29-30) The is also our call. We are not it. Jesus is. So as we die to ourselves and be made alive to Christ, we can walk with him in full freedom, not holding on to any pride or need for glory, but entrusting it all to the one who does deserve it – Jesus.
Those feelings and experiences in the beatitudes are inevitable for those who follow Jesus’ foot steps and teach his Truth
In the gospel of John, Jesus says that the world will hate you, because it first hated me. You cannot be above your Master or expect to have a different experience. What feelings do you think Jesus felt when betrayed, devalued by his closest friends, tempted, debated, pursued to be murdered out of hatred and utterly despised by so-called ‘godly’ leaders? Could it possibly have felt something similar to “poor in spirit”, “meek”, “reviled”? Being honest in experiencing these attributes doesn’t devalue God’s glory if he himself says these things are “blessed”. And it does not impact joy either. The Bible also says, “Jesus counted as joy to go to the cross….” He joyed in his death. Why? Knowing he would get us. Knowing he was doing the Father’s will, in which he utterly trusted. He had his sights on the God’s redemptive plan: he saw the end zone. He knew God was making all things new, and using his sacrifice to reconcile man to God forever. The end was enough for him.
If we have nothing, there is nothing to protect
Two of Jesus’ parables say basically the same thing (Lk. 14:11, 18:14). The greater you are, or think you are the higher chance God will humble you or possibility you might not be his child or in his kingdom. And the more humble, and dead to your sense of self-righteousness you are, the more he will glorify you. I think part of this has to do with the less you glory in yourself, the more you will be free to glorify him. In another parable it says, he who is faithful with little, will be faithful with much. If in small ways you honor the Lord, when unseen, then God can trust with you, knowing his message will not be tainted by pride or deception with greater places of glory and honor.
It is our gift to give God glory, and be made less of and him be made more of. Why? Because we inherit the Kingdom of God. Is that enough for you? Is that enough for me? It was enough for Jesus. Jesus had God’s ultimate glory and goodness in mind for our salvation, when he found it joy walking toward the cross.
If it is to God’s glory and goodness to make me less, my prayer should be so be it. If it reveals the truth of grace to have me reviled by others, I want follow. If my shame is God’s glory, I want to trust. This is the prayer of my heart. That I would truly die to myself and fully entrust myself to God’s goodness and purposes, no matter where the road takes me… Even if it takes me lower.
The Kingdom of God is a “narrow door”, and not many want to go through it the way Jesus is leading. And Jesus is asking, will you follow?
And someone said to him (Jesus), “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”