Receiving the GiftJanuary 28, 2016
Freedom & Confidence: Why Worry?February 11, 2016
What did we the Twelve teach in our morning gatherings at Solomon’s Porch? Mostly what Jesus taught. We didn’t feel we needed to complicate things, just share the Master’s heart. Again, we wanted them to know who Jesus is, what he cared about, and how he did things.
And we wanted them to know he is the single greatest friend we could ever hope to have.
I started my teaching right where Jesus started his. From the beginning, Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in our synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom. And what was this gospel, this good news? I think I can capture Jesus’ heart and his message with two words: freedom and confidence.
Jesus’ good news of the kingdom was simply that the Kingdom had arrived. He was bringing the kingdom of God to us, right into our very lives. And what he wanted us to know was that we could start living in the kingdom now, today. We all thought we had to wait to die to “go to Heaven.” But Jesus said, “If you want to go to Heaven, go now!”
Jesus was saying the kingdom is not a physical one, at least not yet. But instead, his kingdom is all-pervasive. This physical world in which we presently live is, in reality, a God-saturated world.
I remember vividly the day we were traveling back to Galilee, and stopped midday to rest and buy more supplies. In a conversation with a Samaritan woman just outside Sychar, next to Jacob’s well, Jesus spoke of this spiritual kingdom among us, saying, “Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
“My kingdom has now come,” he told the woman. “True worshipers will now worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, and what it would look like, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in the midst of you – and it will be within you.”
I want you to stop and ponder this idea of a Kingdom for a moment: What would it be like to live in a kingdom, with a king who is all-powerful, generous, benevolent and compassionate? Living under the rule of Rome we know what this is not like. But Jesus wanted us to know that in his reality, we don’t live in the kingdom of Rome. We live in a God-saturated kingdom.
One day I offered this example to our gathering: “What would it be like to live in a kingdom with a king who is all-powerful, generous, benevolent and compassionate? What are some thoughts that come to mind that would describe what your day to day life would be like, living in such a kingdom, under the reign and authority of such a great king?”
One man in the crowd said, “It would feel safe.” Another said, “That is just what I was thinking, what a secure life that would be.” A Greek woman stood up and said, “I would be free to pursue my day to day life, my hopes and dreams, with no fear. I could have the confidence that if anything or anyone, any outside force, threatened me, my all-powerful king would take care of me.
“I would feel safe. I wouldn’t have to worry,” she concluded.
I nodded enthusiastically and said, “Yes! So the good news is all about freedom and confidence. This is what Jesus meant by the good news of the kingdom. He wants you to know his Father, who is now your Father, is indeed all-powerful, and that he is all-loving, and compassionate, and even generous. And he will take care of you.
“You can be confident in the love and the power of your King, and, please don’t miss this: with this freedom and confidence you therefore are free to live your life to the full … the life that is truly life.”
And so are you my friend, when Jesus is your King.