Whose is the kingdom of God?

I have always wanted to have a backstage pass.  A special card that lets you go back behind the stage at a concert to meet the singer and musicians.  Or a field pass that lets you go down on the sideline of a game. I haven’t experienced a VIP treatment very often but I did a little bit when I was still playing volleyball as an adult. My team was playing in the national championship tournament and my wife was with me.  We walked into this massive convention center for this week-long tournament. We walked down this ramp and a man stopped us. He said do you have your pass? I pulled my player pass out and he waved me through but my wife had to turn back and go up and around to sit in the stands.  I now could go anywhere I wanted to. There were numerous courts, carts of volleyballs, booths, sport medicine clinics, and extremely tall human beings everywhere. And I had access to all of it. My wife, on the other hand, could only watch from a distance.

We have been talking about the kingdom of God.  It is where God reigns as king. It is not the kingdom of self, where I reign as king.  We also talked about the kingdom of God being this big, huge place where love for God and love for my neighbor are the most important things.  Today we are going to talk about who is in the kingdom of God and who can only look at it from a distance.

What do you think would happen if anyone could walk on the floor of that volleyball tournament.  You didn’t need a pass, didn’t have to be wearing athletic clothes, no jersey, didn’t need to be on a team.  Anyone could wander around. What would happen to that tournament? It couldn’t happen. People would be everywhere, and there would be no benefit to being a part of a team.

The same is true about the kingdom of God.  Not just anyone can be a part of it. To be a part of this kingdom, you must see God as your king and realize that your sin keeps you from being a part of his kingdom and that Jesus took your sin, changed your heart, and now you can be adopted into God’s kingdom.  I had a players pass that allowed me access to the playing courts but your pass into the kingdom of God is your heart. One that has been radically changed by the grace of Jesus. We call someone like that, a Christian.

Let’s talk about what that means, to be a Christian.  1) A Christian is very concerned about keeping and living God’s law.  Not because that is what saves the heart but that is how we glorify God and enjoy Him and enjoy His blessings.  Obedience is the best way to show your love for God. We get to practice that here on earth when we obey the adults that God has put over us.  When we obey, all the way, right away, with a happy heart, we actually are practicing for when we are asked by God to obey his law. 2) A Christian always realizes that he or she is constantly in God’s presence.  Every thought, every word, and every deed is done knowing that God knows everything we think, hears every word and sees every deed. A Christian wants all of those things to be well pleasing to God. A non-christian has a completely different view of life.  They are worried about what they will eat or drink, what they will wear, what their friends will think of them. They depend on themselves and they are anxious, worried because they know deep down, there is something missing in their life. A Christian is completely the opposite.  They don’t worry because they know they are in the presence of God and He provides those things to His children because He loves them. 3) A Christian lives their life in the fear of the Lord. Godly fear is not being scared but it is properly worshiping God, showing reverence to God.  A Christian knows that they are not under God’s eternal judgment but at the same time they know they must appear before God to give an account of what they have done with their time, talent and abilities. Their life shows this understanding of how they live their life each day and how they treat others.  It clearly shows that they love God and they love their neighbor.

This all leads to one big question.  Are you a Christian? Are you a part of the kingdom of God or do you just look at it from a distance?  Your heart must be changed otherwise everything that I will talk about for the rest of this year will not make any sense nor will you be able to do it.  The beatitudes is how to live in God’s kingdom which means your heart’s desire is to love God as your king. Only a Christian can do that. What we are going to find with the beatitudes is that Jesus is calling all of his followers, all Christians to radical self-sacrifice.  Radical humility. And a radical call to serve other people, to your own hurt and loss. This is not what you see on TV. This is not what popular songs are about. In fact, it is the exact opposite. They tell you to live for right now. Live for yourself.

It is easy to think, oh yes, I am a Christian so I am fine, I can live my life, however, I want right now because I’m saved.  You need to understand that as much as you needed Jesus’ saving grace when you believed in Him, you need Him just as much today, and tomorrow, and the rest of your life.  The reason you need him is that you and I still fight against sin and temptation. In a minute, we are going to have a special song called Come Ye Sinners. When you listen to the song, don’t think, if it is about sinners, they must be singing about my brother or sister.  They are the sinners. Or think about someone else who you think is a really bad sinner. This song is written to you and to me. 

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy

Weak and wounded, sick and sore

 

That describes you and me.  Sin makes us poor, needy, weak, it wounds us, makes us sick and sore.  When we try to follow our own heart, do our own thing, seek after our own pleasure, which we all do all the time, sin crushes us and breaks us.  Makes us hurt and lonely. Listen to what the answer is:

Jesus ready, stands to save you

Full of pity, love and power

 

I will arise and go to Jesus

He will embrace me in His arms

In the arms of my dear Savior

Oh, there are ten thousand charms

 

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden

Lost and ruined by the fall

If you tarry ’til you’re better

You will never come at all

Don’t wait until you think you are good enough or worthy enough for God, because you will never come.  Here is what to do instead:

I will arise and go to Jesus

He will embrace me in His arms

In the arms of my dear Savior

Oh, there are ten thousand charms

We need to arise, get up and run to our savior.  Run to His embrace, his hug. Run to His forgiveness.  It is there that we find charms, those great delights. As the music team comes forward, I want you to listen and think about how this song is a call for you and for me to arise, get up, and go to Jesus.

What the fall destroyed, Jesus comes to save and make new again.  You and I can be a part of that by being a part of God’s kingdom but you must enter through the narrow gate.  You must enter by way of the cross. It is only there do you find peace of mind and peace in your soul. No more anxiety or worry about things you can’t control.  Only peace. The last song we sing today is about God’s perfect peace being like a glorious river. The chorus of the hymn is

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest

Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

If you are a Christian, you can claim that promise today and every day of your life.