Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Kingdom of God is for LOSERS!

   The Kingdom is God is for losers. It is for the weak, and for the foolish. That is a bold statement, but before you get too mad at me, listen. Hearken as Christ opens His Sermon on the Mount with these familiar words:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."
This as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, and Luke adds, Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake."  (Matthew 5:3-5 & Luke 6:20-22)
    So the people who seem like they're getting passed over in this life are promised so much more than our eyes can see! Now scoffers and scorners will say this is the biggest scam of all time, that there is no afterlife, and religion just keeps the poor from trying to make a better life here. More about the scoffers in a minute...let's talk more about the "losers" first.
   The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, and reminded them, "For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence."  Why would God choose the losers?  Partly because the "winners" think they don't need God, they're smart enough and strong enough and badass enough to take what they want without any help from the illegitimate son of a carpenter.
   James, the Lord's brother also asked, "Has not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to them that love Him?"  When God called Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites, his response was, "Me? I'm the poorest member of the poorest family in the whole country!" to paraphrase Judges 6:15.
   Again, scoffers mock Christ's statement that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. The self-sufficient suppose the weak and the poor and the ignorant are merely being mislead by the preachers As Bob Marley put it, "We sick an' tired of your ism-skism game, dyin' 'n' goin' to heaven in-a Jesus' name, Lord" .
   But there are two points the unbelievers are missing. First, there is a certain quality God is looking for in people to join His kingdom. Secondly, the benefits of living in that kingdom are not all in the sweet by and by, some distant dream of a hope that will never be realized! 
   So why does God choose the losers? Is it just because they're rejected and oppressed and down-trodden in this life? Or do they have something the winners don't? "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart" wrote the Psalmist, " and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." Psalm 34:18. To this the prophet Isaiah agrees, as God identifies Himself as, "...the high and lofty One Who inhabits eternity, Whose name is holy; I dwell in the high and holy place with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, to revive the heart of the contrite ones."  (Isaiah 57:15) 
   God's not going to waste His time with someone who thinks he's all that! (Though there have been throughout history those who thought they were all that, until they got knocked off their high horse and realized they were nothing but a speck of dust in the universe!) He's looking for somebody who knows he's nobody.  Did not Christ warn the religious leaders that hookers and tax collectors would get into the kingdom of God before they would? 
   Hear me, the kingdom of God is not some far-off fantasy world that never comes! God lifts people up now, in this life. I know, 'cuz I was there! I know the road I was heading down, and where I'd be if Christ hadn't intervened and pulled me up out of it! I'd either be dead, or wishing I were! 
   Christ's offer, "Come unto Me, ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest"  is not an empty promise! And He's not talking about one day, after your life is over. He gives you new life, new strength, new wisdom!  I was weak, I was poor, I was a loser. But now I can say with the Psalmist, "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."
   But the scoffers and skeptics will say I'm deluded and deceived: God isn't real, Jesus is fake, the Bible is all myths.  Fine. I'll tell you what is real.  Suffering, and pain, and humiliation and guilt and fear, and addiction and hopelessness and depression are all real conditions. Such are the heavy loads Jesus promised He'd get off our backs! And don't tell me, because I've seen with my own eyes what God can do and has done in people's lives to set them free from all kinds of pain and torment! My brothers and sisters in the Lord, many friends have I who the Lord has delivered, and lifted them up now in this life!
    I know what He did for me! 
   And you may say it's all in my head, you who imagine you have everything all figured out, confident you know how the universe was born, and how lifeless chemicals took on intelligent life! Ok, it's all in my head! But the thing is, you don't have anything in your head that can do what my Jesus can do!!! 
   The proud and haughty, who have all this world's good, the wealth, the fame, the honor, the glory, go ahead and laugh! Your day to cry like a baby will come, and there will be no one to listen.
   The Kingdom of God is for losers.
   That's not a put-down, it's an invitation.