Living in an upside down kingdom – Saltiness and the Servant King

Sometimes it is hard to see the true face of Jesus because of the many filters that our culture has placed on Him. In many ways, Christians have domesticated Jesus and tamed Him to fit our culture. The problem we have as we continue to do that is that we eventually move away from truth into error.

Jesus once said to his disciples:

Matthew 5:13 You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.

Jesus was saying, if salt gets mixed with dust and dirt it cannot be used for food and is thrown away. Likewise if our understanding of Scripture and the ways of God become contaminated by the various views within our culture then our faith will become impotent.

Recently I have found myself making a comment in conversation with people that ‘we have lost many of the old school values on this new generation’. I think what I was really saying was we are losing some of the character traits that we need to be able to rely on to build strong people.

Over the years I have seen so many Christians forcing secular ways onto Scripture instead of allowing Scripture to transform the way we live our lives.

I realise that churches, movements and ministries have to keep keep afloat but when they start embracing the same corporate culture as that in the world in order to advance themselves, as Christians, we start mixing dust and dirt with the salt.

Of course there is nothing wrong with technology and using the tools that are available to advancing God’s assignment on our lives but when our beliefs and character reflects the times more than that of being a disciple of Christ we may be guilty of losing our saltiness.

God sees success through the life of Jesus. We need to ensure that we are living the life that Christ has called us to live.

Today I want to talk about some of the values of the kingdom and will continue with this topi over the next while, so as to refresh our understanding of the kind of character God wants us to walk in and to refresh our understanding of the ways of the kingdom. These are the values that we need to pass on to the newest generation.

Let’s start by looking at Jesus, who was the central theme of the New Testament.

Philippians 2:5-11The Message (MSG)

5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

9-11 Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

In comparison to the ways of the world, the ways of God seem to be upside down. However Jesus exemplified what seems to be the upside down nature of the God He served.

From the passage we just read we learn about the character of Christ that:

i. Even though He was equal to God He made Himself of lower status to God in order to serve Him.
ii. He used His privilege to serve God and humanity.
iii. God so highly valued the way He walked on the earth that He exalted Him to the highest place over all creation.

According to the Apostle Paul:

Jesus was equal to God and then he emptied himself and made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (Phil. 2:6-11).

Jesus was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that through his poverty we would become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).

He said that whoever wanted to be great would have to be a servant (Matt. 20: 26).

The apostle Paul said that God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, that he chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Cor. 1:27).

These are some of the themes in the Bible that both keep us being salty and keep us living like Jesus.

After a while, you get used to the pattern of the Scriptures. Things that make a person important in our world become unimportant in the Upside-Down Kingdom. And the things that seem weak and humble and poor — they make us better people and take us closer to the heart of God.

Today I’m going to touch on this matter of greatness:

Lets read Matthew 18:1-5

Who Is the Greatest?

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

In this text Jesus wanted teach His disciples that he who is humble and the least in his own eyes, is the greatest in the church and kingdom of God.

The lesson is about how God wants us to posture ourselves in our daily lives as Christians: Jesus is teaching us that as a child is simple, humble, dependent, trusting, and unconcerned about worldly fame, power, and wealth, so we ought to walk the same way before God. And as children naturally embrace other children, so we ought to embrace other, avoiding and putting aside those things that divide men and women from one another.

1. Seek God’s glory by being a servant to others – especially your community
2. Don’t seek personal greatness.
3 Seek to build others up and not tear them down.
4. Hold up Jesus and His Kingdom not a creed.
5. Seek the good of people and not the smile of their approval.

Matthew 10:39 (GNT) Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.

We know from these words and Jesus’ life that it is our responsibility to humble ourselves and serve others and God’s responsibility to promote us.

And God does promote us – He advances us in the same way that He promoted Jesus. However promotion according to God is a greater means to serve and minster to people.

We also read:

John 5:41-44 (NKJV)
41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?

“I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?

Here Jesus makes the point, ‘how can you believe if you are interested in the approval of people’. There is a strong sense that your ability to have faith in God becomes contaminated the more you look to the approval of people -instead of doing the things where God approves you.

My old pastor used to say: ‘perfume is for smelling and not for drinking’. People start becoming poisoned and defiled with something that is the opposite of the kingdom when they start valuing people’s praise. That is why we see people who start off their Hollywood careers with humility and character and so often get into crazy when the start drinking people’s praise.

The reason we are the greatest when we serve is because we are doing exactly what Jesus did – using our privilege and power to empower those who have no power to help themselves.

He is trying to raise up servant kings.

The concept of being a servant king is a very salty concept. It is an upside down concept.

It makes no sense to make yourself of lesser status to those with whom you have equal standing. However in God’s kingdom – that is the way.