Pastor Matt’s Light for the Way – July 2015
REFLECTIONS ON THE UPSIDE-DOWN KINGDOM
Having just returned from the youth mission trip to WV, I am still reflecting on many of the things that I saw and experienced. First, I want to say again that the youth of our church represented themselves and all of us, very well. It was a joy to spend the week serving Jesus and the folks in Lincoln County, WV with them.
The theme for the week was the “Upside-Down Kingdom” and all of our Bible study and devotional times were built around that emphasis. I have been thinking very seriously about this ever since and I’ve come to this conclusion: Christians are (or should be) in fact “upside down” when it comes to how we look at and live in the world. I fear we are so familiar with the stories of Jesus that we often miss this point.
So let’s recap some of what Jesus said and did –
The world says
Get mad and get even
Do your own thing
Focus on the power players
I live to glorify myself
Pick the smartest people in the room
but Jesus says
forgive your enemy and pray for them
to be first you must serve (be last)
love your neighbor as yourself
eat with sinners and outcasts
I live to glorify God
pick tax collectors and illiterate fishermen
Everywhere we look, we see the upside-down nature of the world in which we live – traditional marriage has been “redefined”, aborted babies are being sold for their parts, violence takes teenagers on our streets and terrorism strikes down hundreds around the world. Into this scenario, Christians are commanded to be counter-cultural. We are called to live in such a way that we point to a better and improved way of living life at all levels.
Jesus points to that impact with parables about a mustard seed and yeast. Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[ of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Luke 13:18-21
The point is simple, yet profound, especially to our American culture. The Church has drunk the Kool-Aid that bigger is always better and always means influence – so we spend all our time trying to get bigger (and supposedly better). But the Kingdom that Jesus alludes to is “upside-down” from that understanding. It works small (both mustard seeds and yeast are tiny) but produces great and noticeable results. The funny thing is that both the seed and yeast are doing exactly what they were made to do. Perhaps the truth is that when we live for Jesus faithfully, living exactly how we were created to live, that it’s not Christians who are upside-down but vice versa – that we are right-side up while everyone else is upside-down! Our task then is to live that out joyfully, humbly, and truthfully every day.
Living for Jesus with you,