Many strive to become great today. It may be in knowledge, sports, career, politics, or wealth—many strive for greatness. There is nothing wrong with striving to become the best that you can be. Hard work is always honorable, and it is oftentimes rewarded with success, including the monetary gains that come with it.
Citizens of God's Kingdom, which Jesus is currently ruling over, do not strive for greatness in the Kingdom. They simply obey Jesus and His Word as they follow Him.
In my book, The Kingdom According to Jesus, I write about how Jesus revealed His Kingdom through His words and actions. The Kingdom revealed by Christ includes love, grace, peace, and life with race equality, gender equality, health equality, and economic equality for all. Citizens of the Kingdom make it known today through their words and actions. They are totally obedient to Jesus. They do not strive to become great in the Kingdom. They are called great because of their obedience.
Beloved, obey Jesus. He came, fulfilling the Law, establishing His Kingdom. As you follow Him with your whole heart, continuing His point-of-need ministry, you will be called great in His Kingdom.
Jesus said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19 ESV).
Jesus, I thank you for coming to this earth and fulfilling the Law. I have accepted your grace and answered the call to follow you, allowing you to lead me on this journey from earth to glory. Help me today keep my eyes fixed on you, revealing your Kingdom through my words and actions. Show me ways today that you would have me serve you. Emulate your love, grace, and peace to others through me today. I pray this in your precious name. Amen.
Many years ago as a child in church camp, I was taught a song that I have never forgotten. It goes like this:
Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had father Abraham
I am one
So are you
So let's just praise the Lord!
Many think today that God only blesses one nation.
In my country, America, you always hear people say "God Bless America."
Some believe that Jesus is returning for one physical nation.
Some believe that Jesus is returning for a physical piece of land in the middle east.
Check out what God promised Abraham:
Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. (Genesis 17:4-5 ESV)
According to the Bible, God is for all nations.
God's heart is that none should parish, but that all have everlasting life through His son, Jesus Christ.
Color of skin does not matter to God.
Language does not matter to God.
Gender does not matter to God.
Economic status does not matter to God.
Physical location does not matter to God.
Jesus is not returning for one physical nation.
Jesus is not returning for a piece of land in the middle east.
Jesus is returning for His faithful followers who have denied self and taken up the cross.
Jesus' return is the consummation of His Kingdom here on earth that is already within His followers and He is ruling over it.
His Kingdom is full of love, grace and peace with race, gender, economic, and health equality for all.
His kingdom already consists of people from all nations.
Beloved, in the world there is sin, sickness, disease and disability. As Christ followers, we have citizenship in God’s Kingdom that Christ is ruling over.
Our citizenship is not of this world and we are to utilize our remaining days on earth putting our faith in action so that those in need can have opportunity to experience Jesus’ forgiveness of sins while seeing the Kingdom in action and desiring to be a part of it. In God’s Kingdom there is love, grace, peace and freedom with race, gender, health and economic equality for all.
Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he said to the paralytic-- "I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home." And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"
(Mark 2:6-12 ESV)
Jesus’ message of the Kingdom and demonstration of it was attracting large crowds of people, including the religionists of His day. We can’t help but notice that the religionists had seats in the crowded house and did not give them up for those who were in obvious need, such as this paralytic. Could this mimic our houses of worship today? Are the needy being taken care of or are they being crowded out?
May we in our day take note that Jesus treated all people equal.
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." (Mark 2:1-5 ESV)
Mark is very explicit in pointing out that Jesus was there “preaching the word.” Taking care of people’s needs was important, but preaching the word was priority in Jesus’ life and ministry. The “word” that Jesus preached is defined in Mark 1:14-15 which reads “… Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (ESV)"
Needs being met attracted the crowds, but Jesus constantly brings attention back to the preaching of the Kingdom which is His priority. Near the conclusion of chapter one Jesus tells His followers "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out. (Mark 1:38 ESV)”
In the kingdom that Jesus is ruling over there is love, grace, peace and freedom with race, gender, health and economic equality for all. That message must take priority over all else in our day. Taking care of the needs of people is vital and is to be the result of preaching Christ and His Kingdom which must be priority. Actions must follow words. The result will be a realization of the Kingdom and participation in it.
More to come tomorrow... Your comments are encouraged!
And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them." But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter. (Mark 1:40-45 ESV)
What Jesus does in this paragraph of Scripture is startling to the people watching, but Jesus was not focused on the watching people. He was not interested in attracting crowds and that was not why He did the miracles that He did. He was focused on an individual who had lost his health, his dignity, his ability to earn income, his social status, his family and his friends. Jesus responded with a touch and the words “I will; be clean”. The crowds gasped when Jesus touched the leper, but the leper was filled with healing warmth that flooded His being as he was healed of leprosy and was made clean. It was love that moved Jesus to act to make this man’s life better. Jesus did not just feel sorry for him. Jesus helped him. Jesus responded with compassion – a love that compels one to act.
The first touch this man felt for probably many years was the touch of Jesus. He would never be the same. Why did Jesus touch him? He did not have to do so. In all of the recorded exorcisms, Jesus spoke a word and freed the individuals. He never once laid a hand on a demoniac. He would speak a word and the winds and waves would obey Him, so why did He touch this leper? Maybe, he touched the leper to be our example; a pattern for us to follow.
Who are the social outcasts of our day? Is it the diseased? Is it those living in poverty? Is it the homeless? Is it the incarcerated? Is it the shut-in? Is it those living alternate lifestyles? Is it those of a different race? Is it those of a different faith?
Who are the social outcasts in your city? Who in your city is financially and socially isolated? Who is shut-in? What would happen in your city if each person makes it a point every day to do an act of compassion, reaching out to touch one that is in need? I believe more people would realize the Kingdom of God and want to be a part of it.
Beloved, we live in a day where there is an overabundance of armchair theologians and armchair politicians. We don’t need any more of those. What we need in our day are people who will follow Jesus and get their hands dirty in point of need ministry revealing that in the Kingdom that Jesus is ruling over there is love, grace, peace and freedom with race, gender, health and economic equality for all.
Touch people beloved. Touch people. Be Jesus’ hand extended.
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