Sunday, April 21, 2013



In the past couple of weeks we've been expanding on the first of the revolutionary talking points-the Person of Jesus. We are committed to lifting up Jesus, the revolutionary, in every way we can. We want to see Jesus and hear Jesus more clearly every day. We've been on this Jesus journey for about eight years and it's like a new adventure every day. The learning never stops; our learning curve has become a perpendicular line.
Now, don't miss the point here. This Jesus journey is not about learning a set of doctrines or embracing a systematic theology. It's not even learning to position ourselves as bond-slaves or servants of Jesus, as some teach today. The Jesus journey is all about knowing and relating to Jesus personally and daily. As Jesus shared with his early disciples, "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you." (John 15:15-16) Jesus wants us to walk with him and relate to him as friends. Now, that's not only good news; it's revolutionary news! When you have eyes to see and ears to hear, you will see Jesus as your friend. This is the proper response to Jesus' invitation to: "Come and see."

Once you see Jesus, the revolutionary, as your personal and best friend, you are naturally confronted with a decision to make. Do you believe in Jesus enough to follow him with your life?

Last week we examined what Jesus said about who will enter the Kingdom and who will not. This week I want to move on to the 2nd revolutionary talking point-the Presence of the Kingdom. Jesus' first words were to announce the presence of the Kingdom right here right now. He said it's near, here, and among y'all, yet Bible teachers continue to reframe the simplicity of what Jesus taught about the Kingdom. Jesus only mentioned "church" on two occasions and most of his teachings were about the Kingdom, yet Bible teachers and leaders continue to promote planting, building and growing churches in all cultures. Jesus didn't come to plant an organized system of Churches throughout the world; he came to launch a spontaneous movement of his followers that could penetrate every culture.

"Come and see" is an invitation to check him out. Jesus shifts gears as he teaches about the Kingdom. He shifts from an invitation to check him out to a challenge to "Come and follow". This is the decision each believer must make-to follow Jesus or not. Jesus is recorded saying, "follow me" 19 times in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. To decide to follow Jesus is a decision to live in the Kingdom of God-to live life on a new level.

Early on in Jesus' ministry he commanded those who were leaning in to follow him, to choose to seek the Kingdom of God, rather than to live in a state of worry and fear, as the rest of the world does. Let's take a look at what Jesus said. In Matthew's record Jesus offers the seeking of the Kingdom of God as an alternative to worry. He says, "You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:31-34)

In Luke's record Jesus offers the seeking of the Kingdom of God as an alternative to living a life of worry and fear. Jesus says, "And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:29-32)

Do you see the picture? Jesus describes two kingdoms-two ways of living life. One is what we might call the earthly kingdom and the other is the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of heaven. Remember this comparison of two kingdoms when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. In that prayer Jesus said, "May your kingdom come and may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This is why Jesus' first message was to announce that the Kingdom of God is near, here and among y'all. This is Jesus' primary message. King Jesus brought the Kingdom of God to earth for us to enjoy living on a new level of fullness and satisfaction. I believe Jesus, himself, is the good news, yet Jesus also refers to the Kingdom as the good news. Jesus' primary proclamation was the "gospel of the kingdom" throughout his teachings.

I love the words of Jesus here as expressed by The Message: "What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself."

I want to unpack more of Jesus' insights into the Kingdom in the next few days. Essentially, there is an inseparable connection between Jesus and the Kingdom-the Person of Jesus and the Presence of the Kingdom. Jesus is the source of it all with all of his teachings, principles, and his life. Seeking the Kingdom is to seek to live out the teachings, principles and life of Jesus on this earth. Or, in other words, living out the teachings, principles and life of Jesus is in response to Jesus' revolutionary call: "Follow me!"