unhappy in closet

Last week, we looked at misunderstood scriptures concerning the kingdom of God. We started with a teaching from Matthew 13:44-46, where Jesus told His disciples that the kingdom of God is like a man who found a treasure in a field and then sold all he possessed in order to buy it. In the next verse, He offered a similarly short parable about a man who sold all he possessed the buy a pearl of great value. In other words, possessing the kingdom of God has so much value that one should be willing to give up everything to obtain it.

The second passage we looked at was the well-known encounter of Nicodemus and Jesus, where the Lord tells this man that unless a person is spiritually re-born he will neither see nor enter the kingdom of God.

Finally, we looked at a passage where Jesus told His disciples that unless they became like powerless children, they would never enter the kingdom of God.

So, here are the conclusions of our study of the misunderstood scriptures concerning the kingdom of God so far:

  • Obtaining it is far more valuable than any earthly thing one possesses and one should be willing to sell all to gain it, thus denying the worldly notion that earthly wealth is, perhaps above all things, supremely desirable. It is not difficult to see this get-money-at-any-cost in almost every culture one might be predisposed to study. It is well-known that since the beginnings of human history that people will do anything imaginable in order to gain wealth.
  • One must be spiritually re-born to enter God’s kingdom. This is the salvation aspect in the fabric of the kingdom of God.
  • One must be willing to deny the accepted, much-desired, worldly notions of power and status and, instead, become as powerless as children. Christians should deny all efforts to gain earthly power and its accompanying benefits of “influence” so they may enter God’s rulership. It makes sense, wouldn’t you agree? Who is desiring rule—you or Him? And who is actually able to truly rule? “Not you,” is the answer.

As we are clearly shown, the kingdom of God has nothing to do with us being empowered, “special,” influential, or wealthy, as if those accumulated earthly things are somehow attributes necessary for God’s kingdom. In truth, they are detrimental. The Lord will not allow our earthly power or money to accomplish the purposes of His kingdom, to “get things done for Him.” He alone does what is good and eternal. Now look around at the Christian world, at Christian churches, at your own life, and examine how much understanding we have of God’s kingdom.

My conclusion: Not much. We are convinced that without money and influential status, we will accomplish nothing for God’s kingdom. This thinking is in total disagreement with and oppositional to God’s way of thinking and teaching.

The scriptures presented here are not “one-and-done” passages, an attempt to twist the nature of God’s kingdom into a paradigm I have designed. What you have read above is bolstered by the teachings by Jesus, out there in the clear air to read, so obvious that we have, by and large, ignored them.

Below are some scriptures which bolster and enrich our understanding concerning the truths about the kingdom of God presented above.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). 1 This is an immense truth about the kingdom blessing of humility, which encompasses the previously mentioned teachings about the denial of wealth and status. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble—the poor in spirit (James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5).

Finally, the following passage reinforces Jesus’ teaching about the value of God’s kingdom in comparison to the value of our wealth:

“How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24–25). Jesus said this after a rich, young ruler questioned him about inheriting eternal life. When Jesus told him to keep the Ten Commandments, the ruler responded, “All these I have kept from my youth” (Luke 18:21). To this, Jesus responded with an extra-biblical command: “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Luke 18:22). The young ruler turned away.

Obtaining God’s kingdom is of essential, ultimate value for Christians. It is truly about salvation through Jesus, but also concerns humility and the turning our ideas of wealth, power, and prestige upside-down. This is serious business—serious, that is, if we want to enter God’s kingdom.

We will take up this topic again next week, Lord willing.

 

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

 

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