“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the LORD (Isaiah 55:8).” These words are true and apply to the Upside-down Kingdom of God. On the surface, it can even appear to be unfair. Take “The laborers in the vineyard,” for example. Was the Lord fair in His treatment of the laborers? Perhaps it depends on which laborer you identify with. Why do you assume that you are the one who arrived early and did the most?
How does a person determine their righteousness? The world says, by what you do or don’t do. The Upside-down Kingdom of Jesus has a different standard. “Those who exalt themselves with be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” So, what does it mean to humble yourself? To come under The Blood. When the tax collector said, “Be merciful to me,” he is saying, “Cover me with the blood which has been shed.” In this Upside-down Kingdom, sinners are forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ – even tax collectors.
Who is unworthy and who is worthy? In worldly terms, it only makes sense that those with an invitation are the worthy ones and those without an invite are unworthy. But what’s shocking is, in the Kingdom of Jesus, those who are invited end up being unworthy and the unworthy person on the street ends up being worthy. How might this end-time parable impact how we live according to His Kingdom today?
The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) all begin the parables of Jesus with “The parable of the sower.” In many ways, this parable is the prime example of Jesus’ teaching of His Upside-down Kingdom. In His Kingdom, His grace is extravagant, and could even appear to be wasteful. This is one of very few parables that Jesus interprets (Matthew 13:18-23). Join us this Sunday as we begin to discover the Upside-down Kingdom Jesus has inaugurated.
Without the resurrection, all of our Faith Stories have a tragic ending. All of the lessons and experiences we share are nothing more than painful memories of what was. As you consider your Faith Story, don’t forget to share the most important part. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, your Faith Story continues even beyond death. Don’t leave people tending a garden around the tomb of your Faith Story. Instead, point them to the one who is risen indeed – Hallelujah.
We’re almost there. Easter is right around the corner. Throughout your Lenten journey, we pray that your affection for Jesus has grown. Let’s be honest, though, it’s easy to love Jesus, isn’t it? He heals the sick, raises the dead, washes your feet, feeds you with His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, and gives up His life so that you might have eternal life. At this moment, as the focus is rightly on Jesus, He turns to you and does not say, “Love me.” His new commandment is much harder than that, “Love one another.”
The day before Palm Sunday was a crazy day. Jesus was entering into Holy Week. Judas was self-righteous and a greedy whiner. Lazarus, fresh out of the tomb, joined Jesus and the disciples for dinner. Martha and Mary assumed their typical positions. This week, as we prepare for Holy Week, let us step into the stories of Martha and Mary. Through their Faith Stories, perhaps you’ll see that while we all have different stories, one thing remains the same – Jesus Christ.
Christ desires real relationship with us. Our wealth, resources, and sense of self-sufficiency often prevent us from reliance upon his gift and promise. Repent of self-sufficiency to restore relationship with Christ.
Somewhere in your Faith Story, there was a time when you stood looking into the future wondering, “How will it all work out?” At that moment, you may have not had much to work with. Chances are, you had more than Abraham. Imagine you’re Abraham and Sarah, you’re 80 years old with no children and the Lord tells you that your offspring will be as numerous as the stars. You have no idea how it will happen, but you know one thing – God is faithful to fulfill His promises. What leap of faith does your Faith Story tell?