Kingdom Citizens

Photo by Dylan de Jonge on Unsplash

 

Isaiah 55:10-13
Psalm 65:1-14
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-23

No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.

The Law never succeeded in producing righteousness—the failure was always the weakness of human nature. But God has met this by sending his own Son Jesus Christ to live in that human nature which causes the troublePhillips

Paul, back in 5:12, began the discussion that culminates in chapter 8. He wrote, This, then, is what happened. Sin made its entry into the world through one man, and through sin, death. The entail of sin and death passed on to the whole human race, and no one could break it for no one was himself free from sinPhillips

Having presented Adam as the first to sin, Paul now turns to the solution to the problem—how to break the vicious circle of sin and death. The Bible includes stories of people who were Godly, even as they were flawed. God repeatedly made new covenants with people, but most people were unable to keep the terms of the covenants. Even the Godly people failed at times.

Enter the Son of God. But he enters as the son of Man. As Jesus, thousands of humans were able to see God. Jesus is the mold from which we are made. Humans are shaped in the image of Jesus, though we should not confuse that with carrying his genes. We are made with non-Godly materials. The genetic code for the body of Jesus was unique. He had no ancestors on earth and left no descendants. It would be accurate to say that Jesus was adopted by Mary and Joseph. Or we could say that Mary carried the Jesus fetus as a surrogate mother.

Christians often read, You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in youESV and puzzle over the meaning. If the Spirit lives in me, then why do I still sin and why will I die?

The answer is that we live in two worlds at the same time. Our bodies are physically present in the world of sin and our spirits are with Jesus. In the spirit we work to do what Jesus would do, but in our flesh, we often fall short of that glory. The Good News is that our sins are covered with the God sized bottle of White-out.

Jesus, in Matthew, explains the Parable of the Sower. When someone hears the Movement idea and doesn’t latch on to it, the evil one comes along and makes off with what was planted in his mind. This is the ‘path‘ seed. The ‘rocky places‘ seed is the one who listens to the idea and gets gung-ho about it, but having no inner depth he hangs on for a while until hardship and persecution for the cause come along, and then he washes out. The ‘seed in the weeds‘ is the one who hears the idea, but is overcome by the distractions of life and the love of money before it can bear fruit. The ‘good dirt‘ seed is the one who hears the idea and latches on to it, and it yields possibly a hundredfold, or sixty, or thirtyCotton Patch Version

Those of us who attend church fit into all 4 of these categories. It may not surprise you to realize that there are some church attenders who have never allowed the Good News to grow in their lives, yet they choose to attend for a variety of worldly reasons. We can hope that constant exposure will break down the thick hide and allow the seed to grow one day.

There are many attenders who fit the next two groups. You only have to attend church a few years to see one or more persons get fired up, try to do everything, only to fizzle out and disappear.

Perhaps the largest group is the weedy group. It is the most difficult to navigate. We all must eat, wear clothes, find shelter, etc. Even those who have the rich soil for the seed must struggle with the daily needs. That is why Jesus taught us, Give us this day our daily bread. The most mature Christians give little thought to daily needs knowing that God will provide. Even if they open an IRA or savings account, they then forget about it until it is needed. The weedy group can’t stop checking on the account and looking for one that pays 0.2% more.

The Holy Spirit is right next to you, me, and everyone. We need to be open to the support the Spirit can offer. We must be willing to forgo physical pleasures for the good of other people and the Kingdom of God. We cannot allow even the political chaos to distract us from the Kingdom work.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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