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Posts Tagged ‘kingdom’

In Christ, you’re a native of heaven right now.
You aren’t a citizen of here trying to work into heaven.
You’re a citizen of heaven trying to work through here.

– Ann Voskamp

canadianpassport1-300x200

Where is your citizenship?

We all have birth certificates and passports that declare where our home is, in the eyes of our individual ‘Caesars,’ but this life is short, and those legal documents declaring our Earthly citizenship do not take us into Eternity.

The citizenship of our Foreverland is stamped, in blood, and we do not have to fill out forms to apply, we simply have to be willing to receive. And once we receive, we have arrived, safe in the homeland of the kingdom of God that exists here and now, that exists for all eternity with Christ.

We have all had moments in our lives when we have felt that we were not quite there yet, as though our new passport has not arrived in the post, or we, like in the following story, have arrived at the border, the airport, the train station, the boat dock without proof of where we belong. We have all had times when, sitting around the board table, the pot luck table, the family dinner table, we felt like an illegal alien who does not fit, who does not belong … and oh, how we yearn to belong! Oh, how we yearn …

The yearning is a gift, a reminder, that we were made for a garden … and a garden was made for us.

But …

even when the weeds seem to strangle,
even when the soil is no longer rich but dry like dust,
even when the rains are washing away our crop …

this weed-infested,
heartache-filled,
I-don’t-know-what-to-do-next citizenship on sin-filled planet Earth …

is also created by the great garden tender, who also created us.

This is the kingdom

We are the kingdom-bearers

Children of the great high king

Ruler of heaven …

and Earth.

Even though we sometimes say to ourselves, “I can’t believe they let you in.”

And here follows a reminder about citizenship, by Ann Voskamp …

“Someone has to be that Mother.
 
That mother who drives a full 3 hours to the border with a packed mini-van and anxious kids and creeps through a 20 minute traffic backup under the hot, beating sun, only to rifle through her wallet and look up feebly to tell the custom’s officer she doesn’t have birth certificates for 2 of her children.
 
So that would be me.
 
“Do you have any ID at all — for either one of them?”
 
The custom’s officer asks it gently. Like he doesn’t want to push the flustered and flailing over any imagined or very real edge.
 
He glances back at the long snake of vehicles behind me, waiting. In the sun. That’s not moving either.
 
“Um… no.” I shuffle through my wallet again. “No, sir — I don’t.” Does the earth open up and swallow the Abiram of mothers?
 
“I’m so sorry, sir. If I can just turn around?” I close up my wallet and I can feel it up the neck, the face — the mother shame burning like a red-hot brand. How in the world? What kind of mother…. ?
 
I’m already cranking at the steering wheel, trying to get this mess turned around, thinking that when you can’t swallow down any grace, you turn yourself back from the land of the free.
 
“Just a moment, ma’am. Open up the door here.” He waves my passport in the direction of the van’s side door. I fumble behind me, try to unlatch it, still hoping the earth might open up instead. The officer pops his head in. “Birthdates, kids.”
 
Birthdates?
 
Joshua states his month, day, year and Hope leans forward and I’m the realist who doesn’t hold out much hope at all.
 
The officer taps it into his computer, glances over at me, “And are they Canadian citizens?”
 
“Yes?”
 
And I really try to say it like I’m not always a tentative Canadian, like it’s not a question, like I’m dubious, like I think he’s just gleefully extending the torture of my ineptness and embarrassment of not having one piece of paper to prove anything — because isn’t this the United States of America and when exactly did they start letting in hicks without a passport, without a birth certificate?
 
He looks up from the screen.
 
“Welcome to the United States, ma’am. Have a nice day.”
 
And he hands me my passport.
 
“Welcome?” Um … Really? “But if you let us into the States…” I stammer it out —”

And now click here, When You Sort of Feel Like You Don’t Belong, to read the rest. And for my family who knows they matter, there’s a rainbow at the end!

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Back to once upon a time land, and castles, and roads paved with gold, and pearly gates, and a king who rules justly and loves mercy. Ah …. I almost can dream myself right into the middle of it all!

Throughout the ‘kingdom’ verses in Matthew, Jesus uses children over and over again in his description of the kingdom of heaven. As with every teaching of Jesus, he did not use children as illustration by chance, but because of what they are, and because of what they are not.

Children are innocent, pure, powerless, uneducated. They are the least of society, because they contribute so little to society, from the perspective of power. In their state of powerlessness, they exemplify that the best (heaven) was created and intended for those who are the least deserving, the least powerful the least able to give anything back.

Last week I wrote about the kingdom when Jesus was asked who would be the greatest in the kingdom. Jesus replied that “whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:4-5).

But Jesus child talk didn’t end there.

 In the next verse (v. 6) he says, of children, “if anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Wow! I think he meant business. His statement strongly says that he is serious about the value of children.

Jesus then goes on (v. 10-14) to compare a wandering sheep to “one of these little ones.” He compares God to a shepherd who, if one sheep was lost, would leave the others to go in search for the lost one. This would have been unbelievable to the people listening, because a sheep was valuable to a shepherd’s livelihood, a child was … just a child.

With all of this kid talk, people started to bring their children to Jesus, so that he could place his hands on their head, to pray for and bless them (Matthew 19:13-15). This was really getting on the nerves of the disciples, who wanted the kids to head to the nursery so that the important people … like them, could be close to, and hear Jesus as he taught. But Jesus was quick and decisive in his response, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

There it was. Jesus wanted so badly for them, and for us, to understand, that power in the kingdom of heaven came from a different source than it did/does on Earth. In the kingdom of heaven, the Father provides membership to those who, like children, have no knowledge of, and no desire to seek power.

Later on in Matthew 25:34, Jesus speaks of the King, “come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Those who he is speaking to are those who, like children, the kingdom of heaven was created for. That is my kind of kingdom!

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Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away …

So starts a typical fairy tale, in a typical fairy tale way. It’s predictable beginning leads into the duress of a princess, and the lengths that the prince will go to save her, and to save the kingdom from a dark and evil force. The ending is always the same … and they all lived happily ever after.

Now THAT sounds like my kind of kingdom … well, except for the dark and evil force bit.

Life, real life, is not like a fairly tale. In our real lives we are not all princes and princesses. In real life we are the common folk of the kingdom. We do the work, through blood, sweat and tears, so that the royal family might live, not as they deserve, but as part of their blessing from being in the right bloodline.

Over the past year I have been learning about the kingdom.

It all started with a simple question, one that all in that kingdom (society) at that time would have been able to answer. This question came from ones who knew the answer, but … they asked anyway … maybe they thought that his sovereign had a different perspective from the rest in the kingdom?

The question was, “who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom (of heaven)?”

Any of us who grew up on fairy tales could answer that one! Why the king of the kingdom is of course the greatest.

This man with royal blood flowing through his human veins flipped the kingdom on it’s royal backside. He brings a child into the middle of this group of royal watchers. In this kingdom, a child was … JUST a child (kind of like, for my hubby, the beast is JUST a dog). A child, in the time of this tale, would have no rights, no possessions … a child WAS a possession.

So, this robe wearing man said:

“I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.”

I am thinking that those kingdom quizzers were wishing that they had just stuck to simple questions at this point. Or maybe, they thought that they had asked a simple question?

Their royal leader had just turned their kingdom (societal) norms on their backsides! How could a grown man (woman) return to childhood? Who would want to? But, if they did not, they would be stuck on the outskirts of the kingdom, with the drawbridge forever pulled up.

This royal leader, Jesus, turned the kingdom, the world, up-side-down with his redevelopment plan of the kingdom. The blueprints he was drawing were nothing like the originals … he had gone back to square one.

And that is what He, the king who sits on the throne, asks of us … to allow ourselves to be re-created, re-fashioned, re-born into a new creation. He has fought the dark and evil forces that have lulled us into a lifetime of dreamless sleep. Now, we are invited to be awakened by the kiss of the king, into a life as heirs of the kingdom.

We become the princes and princesses of the fairy tale. And, after a lifetime of loving, and working, and struggling, and stress, and pressures, and heartaches … we will eventually live,

happily ever after.

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