I grew up in a military family for my entire life up until college. We lived all over the place, namely in Germany during the first Gulf War. There is nothing like living on foreign soil during wartime. When your country is in conflict and you are in another country, there is no ceiling to your patriotism. I remember feeling a tremendous amount of national pride as I saw troops flying in and out of the base we lived on as well as knowing other kids whose parents were fighting in the gulf.
I am definitely proud to be an American citizen. To me there is no better place to live. Yet, so often I forget my true citizenship and who whom I truly owe my allegiance.
Being a Christian is not merely a ticket to the better side of the afterlife. To bear the name of Jesus carries the responsibility of the Kingdom he brings.
This will not be an easy conversation. We live in a polarized political climate. You are either red or blue. Liberal or conservative.
But as usual, Jesus offers another way. This is a way opposed to the powers and political talking points of the day. This kingdom brings sacrifice and humility over power and influence.
This is the Kingdom. Let’s talk about it this week.
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Do you understand all these things?”
“Yes,” they said, “we do.”
Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.”
1 Kings 3:5-12
That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.
“Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!
Your laws are wonderful.
No wonder I obey them!
The teaching of your word gives light,
so even the simple can understand.
I pant with expectation,
longing for your commands.
Come and show me your mercy,
as you do for all who love your name.
Guide my steps by your word,
so I will not be overcome by evil.
Ransom me from the oppression of evil people;
then I can obey your commandments.
Look upon me with love;
teach me your decrees.
Rivers of tears gush from my eyes
because people disobey your instructions.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Thank you for your Kingdom
Thank you for offering another way
We often grow myopic and assume the way we believe is the best
Yet, you show there is a way we have never considered.
A harder, but better way.
Thank you for a better way.