Introduction: Let’s talk about the Kingdom of God.
Last week, I revealed that the most detailed explanation of the Kingdom of God is what we call “The Sermon on the Mount.” We read the whole thing from Matthew chapters five through seven.
Now, we are going to read Luke’s account of the same sermon. Although not verbatim, both Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ sermon are one hundred percent accurate.
This is what Jesus taught the disciples when they first started following Him. He was laying the foundation. These are foundational matters for building the Kingdom of God.
In other words, we can’t just skip over this stuff. We can’t do some of it and not others. We must come to grips with the fact that our human ways don’t measure up in the Kingdom of God.
We must abandon everything we believe that doesn’t align with Jesus’s teaching. Otherwise, we will end up living in the world’s kingdom instead of God’s.
Let’s dig in, starting at Luke 6:20
Read through Luke 6 from verse 20 to the end at verse 49: Bible.com (Luke 6)
Now let’s go back to the first part in the Amplified version.
Luke 6:20-21 AMP – And looking toward His disciples, He began speaking: “Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are you who are poor [in spirit, those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for the kingdom of God is yours [both now and forever]. Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are you who hunger now [for righteousness, actively seeking right standing with God], for you will be [completely] satisfied. Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are you who weep now [over your sins and repent], for you will laugh [when the burden of sin is lifted].
The kingdom of God is reserved for those who are not spiritually arrogant. It’s only for those who realize they are nothing without God.
By default, we are arrogant people. We think we know best. We think our opinions are always right. We think people are doomed if they don’t listen to our advice.
Only when you rid yourself of this arrogance can you enter the Kingdom of God. You have to first come to that very painful place where you realize, “I am worthless without God.”
Not only are we arrogant by default, but then we go on to be trained to be arrogant by our school system, especially college.
Have you ever met a college graduate with a chip on their shoulder? Someone who looks down on everyone else who doesn’t have the same education as them?
Then, our arrogance is multiplied as we take pride in our achievements. The more we succeed (according to the world’s standard), the more arrogant we become.
We become wise in our own eyes. We look at what we’ve accomplished and say, “Look at these results! Clearly, I am the one who’s right. Everyone should listen to me.”
I’ve noticed something peculiar about God. He never looks at a person’s resume to determine if they are qualified for a certain position in His kingdom. He doesn’t examine skills and abilities.
That messes with us. We are all tied up in the world’s system, which is all about skills, abilities, knowledge, and accomplishments. Yet, God looks at none of that. How can this be?
Because there is one qualification God is looking for. Have they come to the end of themselves? Have they finally realized their own righteousness is as filthy rags?
When God called me to pastor this church five years ago, I had zero skills in public speaking. I was unqualified. I was young. I wouldn’t have hired myself if I were the one conducting the interviews.
Imagine my shock when I heard the call from heaven that day. I was out hiking, and the Lord placed the pastoral mantel on me. I looked around for someone else, and no one was there.
Do you know why God calls those we would deem unqualified? Because they have to rely on Him to accomplish what they have been called to do. They have no skill, experience, or accomplishments to lean on.
As I choose leaders and elders for this church, I’m not looking at skills and abilities. That’s the world system and a great way to appoint people who aren’t truly called.
I’m simply listening from heaven, “Lord, who have you called as elders and leaders in this church?”
So far, He has revealed one of our elders, Tim Coleman. He is our evangelist, and he is anointed for the job. We better make room because the Lord is working mightily through him.
Tim, I am going to be honest to illustrate a point. I didn’t think you were ready yet. I was worried about skills and experience.
So, it shocked me the day the Lord shouted within me, “Evangelist Tim! Come forth and answer the call. Step into what I’ve prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Receive my anointing.”
Looking back, I don’t know why I was shocked. I’ve never been qualified for what the Lord called me to do. I was simply obedient, knees shaking, and He has always been faithful to give me the desire and power to do what pleases Him.
The moment we start to qualify or disqualify people based on skills, knowledge, and experience is the moment we step out of the kingdom of God and back into the world’s system.
Blessed are those who realize their skills, knowledge, and experience cannot earn them a place in the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who are not spiritually arrogant.
Arrogance is a perversion of confidence. It’s when you trust in yourself instead of trusting in God. It’s when you toot your own horn instead of bringing glory to God.
When you try to promote yourself based on your accomplishments, watch out. When you feel a desire to let everyone know how skilled you are, watch out.
Luke 6:20 AMP – Blessed are you who are poor [in spirit, those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for the kingdom of God is yours [both now and forever].
Who does the kingdom of God belong to? Only those who have figured out they are nothing without God. Only those who feel no need to bring attention to themselves.
There is a fabulous prayer on this subject in a book titled “Pray the Word for Your Church. I am going to pray it now. (page 15)
There’s another section of this I want to look at in the Amplified Bible.
Luke 6:24-26 AMP – But woe to (alas for) you who are rich (abounding in material resources), for you already are receiving your consolation (the solace and sense of strengthening and cheer that come from prosperity) and have taken and enjoyed your comfort in full [having nothing left to be awarded you]. Woe to (alas for) you who are full now (completely filled, luxuriously gorged and satiated), for you shall hunger and suffer want! Woe to (alas for) you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep and wail! Woe to (alas for) you when everyone speaks fairly and handsomely of you and praises you, for even so their forefathers did to the false prophets.
Jesus is issuing a very stern warning to three groups of people:
- Those who trust in money
- Those who self-indulge
- Those who everyone loves
Is this not what American culture is trying to get you to become?
In our culture, we think more possessions will satisfy us. We think we have the right to indulge ourselves. We think a Christian is someone who doesn’t ruffle feathers.
If you want to live in the Kingdom of God, you must deny all three things. You have to push against culture. You have to become someone who isn’t loved by everyone but rather persecuted.
Beyond that, you must rejoice when persecuted for following Jesus. A great reward awaits you in heaven!
The Kingdom of God is a peculiar thing. It requires us to abandon human understanding and embrace the wild things Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount.
If you are willing to obey, stand to your feet and allow God to update your desires. As you obey from a place of deep reverence and fear, He will transform your desires into His.