God’s Kingdom is Not About You

Thought of the day:

God’s kingdom is not about you.

Are we sons of God, or are we servants/slaves of God? Yes. We are both.

I think that as Christians today we especially like to identify with the former. We of course pray “Our Father….” And it is written, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. . . . Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared.” (1 John 3) And, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (Galatians 3) And “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12) And Christ also said to His disciples, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…” (John 15)

And I think that, in our joy for this gift of being God’s heirs, we often forget that we are also still God’s servants. Paul identifies himself as, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus.” (Romans 1) And Jesus describes us as servants/slaves in multiple parables.

Consider this parable of Christ’s:

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.” (Luke 12)

A detail here was brought to my attention recently that I’ve often overlooked: These servants are not at the wedding feast. The master is feasting without them.

A servant is not entitled to a seat at the banquet. This is how the real world works: The honored guests get to enjoy the banquet. The servants do not. The servants merely do their duty, often unpleasant though it may be.

I am a servant/slave of God. And I know I have often forgotten that I am not entitled to a banquet invitation from God.

“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” (Luke 17)

Christ has ascended and is right now in paradise at the wedding feast at the right hand of the Father. We are here in this fallen creation, waiting and praying for His return. Christ and His army of angels are holy and unblemished in the Father’s house. We are creations of God who rebelled and severed ourselves from His goodness and forfeited our original status in creation.

Our Father’s kingdom is not about us. Christ is perfectly able to feast without us. We are the servants.

Do we know this? Which of us, if confronted with God face to face, would display the awareness that Peter did when he realized his Lord was before him? “He fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’” (Luke 5) Or as Isaiah did? “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6)

Now, it is written, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4)

But it is also written, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4)

Here’s the thing: because of Christ’s death and resurrection and intercession for us, we actually can have confidence to draw near to God and receive grace, just as Esther received grace when she approached the throne of her king, though by law she could have been executed for doing so. (Esther 4-5) We truly can have confidence as beloved children of God even now, even while waiting for our inheritance.

But if we forget that we do not deserve that inheritance–if we forget that we are also still by nature from a fallen, rebellious creation that is slated for demolition–then we forget just how great a gift that grace from God really is.

Remember the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. (Luke 18)

And remember also that immediately after that parable, Jesus calls the children and says, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18)

“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18)

No, the kingdom of God is not about you.

But it is FOR you.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3)

We shall be like our Lord, the true Son of God.

And when He comes to take us home to the mansion prepared for us, He will set before us the wedding banquet.

So for now, we endure. This world is dying. This world is pain. And we by rights deserve worse. But we have an advocate with the Father. We know this world, with its trials, isn’t the end of the story. We know our place and we accept it now until our Lord says it’s time to elevate His children as He has promised. And we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

“If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and he is merciful to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’; then man prays to God, and he accepts him; he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness. He sings before men and says: ‘I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.’” (Job 33)