Last week we began exploring the differences between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. And they are very different.
We noted that Jesus frequently told parables about the kingdom of God to help us understand what it’s like because it is so different from the kingdom of this world. In fact, from what Jesus says, it almost seems backwards and upside down. For example, Jesus says in the kingdom of God, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first. He says that if you want to be great, you must become the least – if you want to save your life, you’ve got to give it up – if you want true riches, give away what you have”. It seems like the kingdom of God operates exactly opposite to what we’re used to.
Actually, let me show you a verse from Matthew chapter 5 – verse 11. I didn’t read this verse last week, but I think it illustrates how backwards the kingdom of God seems to be.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” Matthew 5:11-12
Usually, you might say God has blessed you when you have a nice house, a healthy family, wonderful friends, a good job, and life is going swimmingly. We see all that and we say, “Yup, God sure has blessed me.”
But Jesus says that when people are mocking us, persecuting us, lying about us, and saying all sorts of evil things about us because we are His followers – that’s when we know we are blessed. I don’t know if that sort of stuff has ever happened to you, but if and when it does, that’s when you can say “Yup, God sure has blessed me.”
And that just seems backwards! It’s clear that the kingdom of God is very different from the kingdom of this world.
And that creates a huge challenge for us because Jesus says that those who follow Him – those who are a part of the kingdom of God – those people are in this world, but we’re not of this world.
We live here in our communities in this time and place and in this society – but we belong to a totally different kingdom with totally different values and a totally different culture. Paul tells us that we used to be part of that kingdom, but upon receiving Christ as our Saviour and King, we’ve since been transferred into a whole new kingdom. He says in Colossians 1:13…
13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son. Colossians 1:13
When choose to follow Christ, we are transferred from one kingdom to the other – from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, from the kingdom of this world to the kingdom of God.
And so it is a huge challenge for us to live according to the values and the culture of kingdom of God while still living in the midst of the kingdom of this world.
But believe it or not, that’s exactly God’s plan and purpose for those in his kingdom. That was God’s plan and purpose for Israel – and that’s still the plan and purpose for church.