Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Upside-Down Kingdom

It has been said that the Kingdom of God is an upside-down kingdom. When seen through the lens of our current culture, it most certainly is. 

For instance, when Jesus’ disciples began to quarrel about who would be the greatest in His Kingdom, He said:

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20: 25-28

The idea of achieving greatness by becoming a servant must have seemed as counterproductive to them as it does to so many of us. Human nature doesn’t change. Then, as now, it’s far more common to see people striving to achieve greatness by climbing over everyone in their way.

In His Kingdom, Jesus said, the way to find your true life is to lose it. These days we are inundated with messages in every form telling us how to find our “true” identity, but Jesus put it very simply:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Matthew 16:24-26

We can spend a lifetime accumulating wealth, fame and power - things that will all one day fade away. In the end, only those things of eternal value will remain. 

Then there is the matter of giving. We may not struggle with seeking after temporary things, but most of us have strong opinions about the way we spend our hard earned money. This tithing business may be taking things a bit farther than we are willing to go. Our natural tendency is to hold tight to what we have, especially if we don’t have great wealth. It doesn’t make much sense to give away what little we have and be left with not enough. It seems downright foolish.

However, it is so important to the Lord that He says we should test Him on it:

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
Malachi 3:10

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
Luke 6:38

Give and blessing will come to you in ways you could never have imagined. He has proven it to be true over and over again. 

In this glorious Kingdom, where everything goes counter to the way we are accustomed to thinking, we find the true blessing of serving, denying self, giving generously, loving our enemies, becoming strong in our weakness and so much more. Anyone who has put the Lord to the test will testify to the truth of His words.