Mysteries of the Kingdom



photo by Eric Samson, cc-by-sa-2.0, wikimedia commons

HOW THE JESUS GANG FIGHTS

  "Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you." Upstairs in Jerusalem a dead man walked through the wall to show off His death wounds and tell His gang that in the same way God had sent Him, He was sending them.

He sent them to die as He had died.
He sent them to be wounded showing them His wounds.
He sent them in peace as the Father sent Him in peace.

   Into a world ruled by money, God had sent His Son victorious in poverty. Into a world ruled by entertainment, God had sent His Son overcoming through tears. Into a world ruled by strength, God had sent His Son victorious in gentleness. Into a world ruled by human appetite, God had sent His Son triumphant through fasting. Into a world ruled by revenge, God had sent His Son conquering by forgiving. Into a world ruled by sin, God had sent His Son victorious in purity. Into a world ruled by warfare, God had sent His Son making peace with mankind. Into a world ruled by preying on the weak, God had sent His Son to win by being persecuted. Into a world ruled by popular opinion, God had sent His Son to receive every kind of insult. And into this world where suffering is despised, God had sent His Son who celebrated the opportunity to suffer the vileness of the cross as a form of worship to His Father, calling His suffering "glory."
   The friends of Jesus were His gang (His congregation). They had seen all these things happen to their leader. The sermons He preached had become His uncanny victory over darkness. As difficult as it must have been to watch their leader suffer, they now heard Him threaten to send them into conquering as He had conquered, not with swords of steel but with suffering, poverty, death, forgiveness, weeping, and rejection.
   The world has diligently taught us to win with dollar bills, entertainment, strength and bodily comforts. While God has not forbidden us any of these things, neither He has not blessed them for the spread of His kingdom. He blessed the opposite of each one:

    "How blessed are those who are destitute in spirit, because the kingdom from heaven belongs to them!
    "How blessed are those who mourn, because it is they who will be comforted!
    "How blessed are those who are humble, because it is they who will inherit the earth!
    "How blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because it is they who will be satisfied!
    "How blessed are those who are merciful, because it is they who will receive mercy!
    "How blessed are those who are pure in heart, because it is they who will see God!     
    "How blessed are those who make peace, because it is they who will be called God's children!  
    "How blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, because the kingdom from heaven belongs to       them!
    "How blessed are you whenever people insult you, persecute you, and say all sorts of evil things against you falsely because of me!
    "Rejoice and be extremely glad, because your reward in heaven is great! That's how they persecuted the prophets who came before you."

  King Jesus blessed the opposite of worldly strengths because He used worldly weakness to show the supernatural power of heaven for overcoming evil. As He fought, we will fight. The story is told of Jack and Elizabeth Morris who lost their son at the hands of a drunk driver. Jack visited the driver in jail for years, bringing him food and love. When their son's killer was released from jail, the Morrises took him into their home, helped him get on his feet, and even made him the legal heir to all they owned. If the story is true, the Morrises did not learn about winning in the ways of this world.
   King Jesus commanded us: "I tell you not to resist an evildoer. On the contrary, whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go two with him. Give to the person who asks you for something, and do not turn away from the person who wants to borrow something from you.
   "You have heard that it was said, 'You must love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you will become children of your Father in heaven, because he makes his sun rise on both evil and good people, and he lets rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous."
   His Apostles taught us similarly. Paul said in Romans 8, "As it is written, 'For your sake we are being put to death all day long. We are thought of as sheep headed for slaughter.'  In all these things we are triumphantly victorious due to the one who loved us." Then in Romans 12 he said, "Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good."
   Peter taught, "The Messiah also suffered for you and left an example for you to follow in his steps. 'He never sinned, and he never told a lie.' When he was insulted, he did not retaliate. When he suffered, he did not threaten. It was his habit to commit the matter to the one who judges fairly."
    To all the world, we appear to be losing in our greatest victories because we win when we suffer, when we forgive, weep, hunger, make peace, are insulted, and celebrate the privilege of suffering. Paul enlisted Timothy to fight for the Kingdom in the ways of the King saying, "Join me in suffering like a good soldier of the Messiah Jesus."





                                                    
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"How the Jesus Gang Fights" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net March 20th, 2013. All rights are reserved. Except where otherwise noted, scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2013 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission.