Kingdom Teacher; Kingdom Builder

Psalm 36:7
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 51:1
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

 

1 John 3:1-3
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

 

As we think about the life and death of Jesus Christ, it only makes sense that Jesus was a kingdom teacher and builder. We could actually say that the kingdom of God IS the kingdom of love – because God is love. And as we discovered last week, God is IN love – with us.

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For many years, the Jewish people had been waiting to experience the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that is given in the twelfth chapter of the book of Genesis. It is a three-part promise where God tells Abraham that He will make of him a great nation, will give him this land to possess, and that through Abraham and his descendants, all families of the earth would be blessed. This is the way it is presented in the Hebrew scripture – that the Hebrews are the chosen people, not just for themselves but to be a blessing to all the earth.

 

It probably happened about 4,000 years ago. That is a long time to be waiting for the experience of the fulfillment of a promise God has made to us. This is more or less the history of the good Jewish people, waiting to experience the fulfillment of that promise.

 

The high point of that promise would be the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. So Jesus came and taught about that kingdom of God and said it was something different. It was not, necessarily and primarily, a political kingdom in the world but was to be a spiritual kingdom accessible within ourselves.

 

Luke 17: 20-21 – 20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”  He is saying here that the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. The idea is that Jesus brought it all inside of us and said that the kingdom we are looking for is primarily a spiritual kingdom of love and is to be found within us.

 

“Today, there is much discussion going on among scholars concerning the
historical Jesus. There seemed to be more programs this year, around Christmas, concerning the historical Jesus on many networks.

They are continuing the discussion they have had for years of which words, attributed to Jesus in the Bible, did Jesus actually speak. There is quite a bit of controversy going on. Some of the scholars are getting pretty steamed about what a particular group (called the Jesus Seminar Group) is doing. This is a group of 100 or so scholars who meet, from time-to-time, to study the words of Jesus as they are given in the four Gospels, and also, in writings outside the Bible (such as the Gospel of Thomas). They do not say that their conclusions are the final word, but they are very interested in finding the real Jesus instead of possible church doctrine put in during the Council meetings and that were gathering together and decided upon after much debate of what would make up the 66 books that we now call our Bible. Recently, they have published their book entitled, The Five Gospels.” (foiund through research)

 

Did you think there were 4 Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?  Well, guess what ! There are five. There is the Gospel of Thomas that is now beginning to be recognized. This is a collection of about 114 sayings that are attributed to Jesus. Some of these sayings are paralleled in the four New Testament gospels.

 

“In this “Gospel,” they have color-coded the words of Jesus, in accordance with how much they think He actually spoke these words. In the book (The Five Gospels), Jesus’ words are shown with a descending degree of possibility, in colors ranging from red to black. In other words, if they print the words of Jesus in red, they are pretty sure Jesus spoke those words. Then you have a range of colors going from pink to gray to black. If the words are printed in black, they are pretty certain that Jesus did not speak the words, even though the gospels have attributed them to Jesus.

 

So, they say if something is printed in red, that is Jesus words. If it is in pink, it sure sounds like Jesus’ words. If it is in gray, well, maybe. And if it is in black, not so much and there has been some mistake. Many ministers are really excited about this issue, this debate. Me? Probably not too excited about this, but others are so I leave it up to you to decide.For me, if scripture says it, that is enough for me. I do not need colors to point out the truths of Jesus.

 

Many theologians see Jesus as a prophet who was always speaking short but meaningful pieces much like the ones from the Sermon on the Mount – what we call today “one liners” – powerful and important. These scholars also think that the parables He told were ones we would print in red (as coming from His Lips).

 

I believe that – even putting that color coding aside – that Jesus did speak the parables and the “one liners.”

 

Here is the key to the kingdom. These – the scriptures – are the teachings of Jesus, regardless of the words or the color coding. . And what we, as Christians must do is to follow that path of obeying and living His words. Then the path takes us to the Kingdom – the kingdom of love, the Kingdom of God – where there is all peace, all harmony, all love.

 

Now, how simple is that – just to follow a few basic teachings and the morals behind the parables leads us into the kingdom of love. And that kingdom of love is to be first found within ourselves, in our souls. Once these teaching are within us, our action is accomplished also in love. Jesus has provided a blueprint we can follow that will lead us into the kingdom of love.

 

Let’s focus on what Jesus teaches about love? He said a lot about that subject and much can be attributed to Him, as we know as we read our scriptures.

 

The one main point Jesus made was that of a loving Father – God. It is important to keep close to use the fact that Jesus’ concept of God was that He was His Father. We as spiritual people also must hold on to this concept. Everything we do in our lives is an expression of our concept of God. Think of that for a moment. Everything we do in our lives is just an expression of our concept of God. What a powerful declaration and truth.

 

Genesis 1:26 says: 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…..”   So we are made in the image and after the likeness of God. And what is God? God is the very quality of love itself. God is life; God is health; God is intelligence; God is power; God is Spirit. God does not have those things; God is the sum total of ALL those Divine qualities. And ALL of these are individualized within us, in potential.

 

Now since we are made in the image and after the likeness of God, our lives through the ages should be one of love, quality, giving, trust …. Woops –is that human history – over the thousands of years, up to today? Is this the image of God as He created us. I am thinking – “not so much.” We are not the image of God. We have created a God in our image and what works for us. If scripture doesn’t say what we want it to, we just blame it on the culture of the past and pretend we have advanced beyond that. God is not like the humankind we have become, hateful, vengeful, unforgiving, mean. That is not God—that is a human trait. What we have done in constructing our concept of God throughout the ages is projecting those human qualities onto God. Why? I think it is because we then have an excuse for our negative behavior, our permissive behavior. And now our culture is slipping away from the definition of “created in His image.”

 

Everything that Jesus said and taught is His reflection of God as totally loving. And He spoke of God as Father. Back in that time “father” was used to express the close family relationship between the deity and the deity’s followers.

 

By the way, Jesus uses the term Father in two places that are versions of the Lord’s Prayer –
Matthew 6:9 9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
and Luke 11:2 – He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.
– and that group called the Seminar Group, in their color-coded work, have put the word “Father” in red. So even they believe Jesus really spoke that word. (Of course most of us already knew that.)

 

But it is interesting that the Jesus Seminar folk put the word “Father” in red. Jesus had a very loving concept of God as Father. I think this probably in some way might reflect the relationship he had with Joseph, His worldly father.

 

Not much is told to us about Joseph in the New Testament, but I think many of us tend to project our concept of our parents onto God. So, Jesus must also have had a really loving, human father figure.

 

Jesus taught that God is a very loving God—a God of love, as we discussed last week. Did you realize that the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) never say, “God loves you.” Jesus does not say it, nor do the writers. Yet, we don’t have to see it to know it. If we just look at the teachings of Jesus, we know beyond a doubt that God was nothing but true love, given at ALL times, no matter who we are, what we have done or what we have not done. That is truly unconditional love. I thank God for that love every day because I do not deserve it. Yet, I so relish in it and appreciate it beyond words.

 

Jesus says in, John 16:27 (NIV) 27 … the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

 

It seems as though He is talking more directly about God loving us there. Is this the kingdom of which He teaches?

 

So, no matter where you go with Jesus, you are going to find that He is in some way addressing the wonderful, spiritual quality of love that is our basic nature.

 

What are we to do with it? Practice it to the best of our ability in everything we do, remembering always that no matter what the problem is, love is the solution.

 

Have you ever seen this? “Love is the answer, now what was the question?” I think no matter what question was addressed of Jesus, it can be addressed of us today, and we will find that the answer is always the same. And Jesus, in His own way, said the same thing.

 

1 Corinthians 4:20-21(NIV) 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?

 

This is Emmett Fox’s writing on what he calls “The Golden Gate.” Friends, this is the golden gate that leads us into the kingdom of love, into that consciousness of all good. This is HIS teaching of the Kingdom.

 

“Love is by far the most important thing of all. It is the golden gate of paradise. Pray for the understanding of love and meditate upon it daily.

 

It casts out fear; it is the fulfilling of the law; it covers a multitude of sins. Love is absolutely invincible. There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer, no disease that enough love will not heal, no door that enough love will not open, no gulf that enough love will not bridge, no wall that enough love will not throw down, no sin that enough love will not redeem. It makes no difference how deeply seeded may be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake. A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all. If only you could love enough, you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world.”

 

1 Corinthians 4:20-21(NIV) 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?
When will the Kingdom come on Earth? —when we express it. We each need to become the love of God in our reality, in our soul, in our truth, in our expression.  Then we can, and will, produce a heaven on earth. And that is the Kingdom of which our Jesus taught  Let us create this strong kingdom on earth and within ourselves as we await the arrival of our Lord on His second coming.

How proud he will be, knowing we encompass HIS teaching of Kingdom Building.

God bless you!

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