The kingdom of heaven may be compared to ... The kingdom of heaven is like ... (Matthew 13:24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47; NASV)

Expectations can destructively hide reality. When Jesus discussed God’s kingdom, he discussed God’s rule over people who subjected themselves to God. In Jesus’ ministry, he spoke primarily to the Jewish people who were (and had been for generations) certain they had God’s rule all figured out. They were so confident in their expectations that Jesus had difficulty in introducing them to reality.

Note first that Jesus spoke in terms of a kingdom. A kingdom was the common form of rule in Jesus’ time—no one asked, “What is a kingdom?” God was in charge and provided the guidance. Followers of God’s guidance were His subjects. God’s kingdom worked when God was in charge and provided the guidance — and the subjects submitted to His guidance. Primarily a kingdom was not about the people who followed the guidance, but about the ruler who gave the guidance. People in a democracy do not think like this!

Note second that Jesus challenged their concepts of God’s rule. More was involved than being descendants of Abraham. Subjects provided God with proper soil for His seed. They were helpful wheat, not weeds that threatened the wheat. His subjects would be a small people that expanded dramatically by a slow but effective process of contagion—who they were made what they said powerful! Some became subjects through accidental discovery, and some through intentional search. Subjects were in charge of following, and angels were in charge of sorting. Those who listened to Jesus should concern themselves with following God! Subjects in God’s kingdom had a definite responsibility, but it was NOT determined by their genealogy or seeking to control other people!

Being in God’s kingdom is not determined by who our parents or grandparents were or what they did; nor is it determined by our control over others. It is determined by one thing: following God’s guidance. Only God through Jesus is the divine gift to humanity.

Are you deceived by your expectations? Do you follow God or depend on who you are?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 4 July 2010

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