In our younger years, I taught elementary school and loved it. Kids are amazing and so much fun to work with, and it is so inspiring to watch how just a little love, care, and positive attention can help them to bloom. However, the elementary school classroom is also a wonderful place to develop and maintain a firm understanding of the Christian doctrine of Original Sin. Contrary to popular modern teaching and opinion, groups of people living and working together day after day in close proximity are not going to magically and organically treat one another with care and respect - in fact, left to their own devices, most school classrooms would quickly devolve into a Lord of the Flies situation.
Any serious study of the history of civilization will testify to the fact that without some sort of outside influence, chaos reigns. The problem is, of course, that just about all of the outside influences are little better than chaos themselves. Injustice is rampant, power is corruptive, and the strong devour the weak - every sort of kingdom that humans have managed to produce in our own strength are tainted by these truths.
This is why, when a truly unusual young man from a little town called Nazareth began teaching and preaching about a new kingdom over 2000 years ago, so many people had questions. The next time you read through the Gospels, notice two things - first, how many times Jesus mentions the Kingdom of God. The two are inseparable, Jesus and His Kingdom; you cannot have one without the other. Second, notice how many of the conversations recorded in the Gospels are of Jesus answering questions that people had about His Kingdom. What is it, where is it, why can't I see it, and how do you get into it? The more Jesus explained His Kingdom, the more questions His listeners had.
His hearers then were almost exclusively Jewish people. At that point in time, they alone had the revelation of who God really was; yet, when He came to them in the flesh, many could not recognize Him or His Kingdom. It is thought-provoking to note that the priests and the teachers of the law had taken the beautiful revelation of God and over the centuries created an elaborate system of rituals and of complex lists of do's and don'ts. Their system became more precious to them than their God - it lost the heart of God and became a new standard for righteousness: Self-righteousness.
When confronted with the real King and His Kingdom, many could not make things make sense. He did not do things the way they thought He should. Jesus was born in a stable, not a palace. He came from a backwater town and hung out with the lowest of the low, little kids loved Him and wanted to be around Him, and He made time for anyone - man or woman, rich or poor. He preached that if you want to be first, you have to be last; and that you cannot say you love God without also loving and forgiving your neighbor, and treating everyone else as you would like to be treated. He taught that people of His Kingdom would be known as meek, merciful peacemakers. He taught that if you want to save your life, you have to lose it. And instead of delivering with an army, He delivered by laying down His own life.
Since Jesus came and revealed to the whole world what HIs Kingdom was like, civilization has been radically changed. It is actually amazing and revolutionary that now there are entire nations in which slavery is illegal - that is because of Jesus and His people. It is also amazing that in many nations, women and children are treated with dignity and respect, and given every opportunity to have a full and purposeful life - that is because of Jesus and His people. In many nations touched and influenced by the teachings of Jesus, the poor are looked after and the downtrodden are lifted up. His Kingdom looks very different than anything humans could produce on our own - His Kingdom is entirely motivated by real love and selflessness.
This is why the writer of the letter to the Hebrews was so insistent that we not miss the real King and be satisfied with our own systems of self-righteousness. See this strongly worded passage in Hebrews chapter 12...
See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire."
- Hebrews 12: 25-29
Everything that can be, will be shaken. If ever there was a time that this seems very likely, it is today in 2020! Nothing that humans have created outside of God and His Kingdom will remain - no structure, no system of governance, no religion, nothing.
Listen to the profound and prophetic words of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in a sermon preached in 1963. He was writing in a time and place when, for the first time, no one laughed at the idea of the earth being literally shaken and melted - it was the dawn of the Atomic Age and everyone was very aware of the power and fear that had been unleashed with nuclear weaponry, and this after a half century of brutal world warfare...
"In other words, we can put it like this: the uniqueness of this message lies in the fact that there has been One in this world who really did not belong to it. The world has thrown up its great men, its great philosophers, its great scientists, its great statesmen and great musicians and many other great men, but Jesus of Nazareth was not a great man, He was God-man!
This is the appaling thing, is it not, that two thousand years later, He is still being ignored. The world has always been a place of trouble and of pain, and the whole story of civilization is that of the human race trying to solve its own problems...trying to put an end to war, trying to make people live amicably together, trying to order life so that men and women might live as it should be lived and that they might enjoy it. But they failed yet the world is still trying, still turning to the same kind of idea...doing everything except listening to this one thing. This is why this writer puts it like this: "See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks."
Friends, we know that everything will be shaken, and that only God's Kingdom will remain. Do not allow the things that are happening now to discourage or frighten you - keep your eyes on Jesus! As one old preacher said, Jesus and His Kingdom are God's total answer for man's every need. By His grace and forgiveness can people learn to live peacefully together, now and forever.
This is our wonderful opportunity to share with all of our family, friends, and neighbors the Good News of Jesus, who alone can lift our burden of sin and bring real help to men and women. It is our honor to tell everyone how much God loves them and wants them to be a part of His great, unshakeable Kingdom.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
Subscribe to regular blog posts!