How then shall we live? The kingdom of God is like a lost coin… a lost sheep… a lost son… a sower going out to sow… How then shall we live?
Your life is mostly mundane. You wake up, have a morning routine, get off to work or school, or go back to bed, depending on where you are at in life. You do your thing – some Bible reading and prayer, lunch, supper, maybe shopping today, maybe the gym. You read, watch some TV, some time with friends. Then you brush your teeth, floss and mouthwash, then sleep. You wake up and do it again. Sometimes little things creep in, a raise at work, a big test coming up – but most of life is lived just doing life. But then God, the Sovereign God of the universe, brings something different. He has something specific for you in the kingdom, something just for you. Yesterday, at the Promise Keepers conference, Bill Farrel said “God just does it. There is no warning, and He doesn’t ask your permission.” God brings a new thing, a new opportunity, a fork in the road.” Your life is set on a new course, redefined even.
Mary was a young woman, betrothed to Joseph. She is just doing her thing, planning for the future, when suddenly the angel Gabriel appears. She responds with obedience and wonder, and praise. Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying for a baby for a long time. Zechariah was just doing his thing. It was his turn at the temple, so up he goes and they draw lots for their jobs. He gets to light the incense this time – much better than dealing with the slaughter of all the sacrificial animals. But when He goes in behind the curtain to do it – there is an angel. The message is given, and he responds with doubt. He isn’t so sure that the angel has it right – he is too old for a child. The angel corrects him and says the Lord’s plan will be done, and oh, here is a reminder that God knows what he is doing – you can’t speak until the baby is born.
Moses is doing his thing, trying to make a difference, but ends up in exile, and after many years is not much more than a simple herder. Then the burning bush – God steps in and throws a curveball into a life that had settled into mundane. Go to Egypt, confront the Pharaoh, set my people free. “But I can’t speak so good – take Aaron. But who am I? “It isn’t about who you are, but who I am,” says God. But who are you? I am that I am… And your stick? Throw it on the ground – it turns to a snake, and off Moses goes.
The buddies are working on their fishing boat when the rabbi comes and says, “Follow me”. Just doing what they had done day after day, when God stops by and says He has something else for them to be doing. Peter, Andrew, James, and John’s lives would never be the same.
Paul was on his horse going to Damascus to get those Christians who were heretics according to the Law. A bright light, the voice of God, blindness – life would never be the same.
Abram was doing his thing, when God calls him away from his land to a place he did not know. He became the father of the Jewish nation.
Story after story we see God breaking into the ordinary lives of ordinary people and inviting them into the kingdom. Here are some of the lessons we learn:
Your age doesn’t matter. Mary was probably 13 or 14. The disciples were older teens. Zechariah and Elizabeth, Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children. Moses was 80 years old. Abraham was 75 years old. Paul was probably middle-aged – 30ish. Jesus Himself was 30 when He started His public ministry.
What you have or don’t have doesn’t matter. When Jesus fed the 5,000 men, maybe some 20,000 people in all, the only food He had was enough bread and fish for a couple lunches. Zechariah was a temple priest, the disciples were uneducated fishermen. The group also included a tax collector, an anarchist, and a thief. God used David, a king, adulterer and a murderer. One of the two insurrectionists on the crosses beside Jesus responded to grace, and although he brought absolutely nothing except a naked body dying on a cross and a word of confession, met Christ in paradise that very day.
You don’t have to understand what God is doing. Many of the people who encounter Christ let their lack of understanding prevent them from accepting God’s work in their life. Zechariah complained he was an old man, and Sarah laughed. Peter denied Jesus in Christ’s darkest hours. Job cried in his pain and loss, “I don’t understand, after all I have done.” God simply speaks out of the whirlwind and says, “you don’t have to understand, I am God, and you aren’t. Trust me.” You don’t need to set the angel straight on the facts – he knows. You don’t have to quote scientific fact to an angel or to God – God created the science and can burn a bush without consuming it, calm a storm, heal the sick, raise the dead.
There is nothing you can do to add what God, what Christ has done. There is nothing you bring that God needs – your righteous deeds are like filthy rags. Behavior does not make you righteous – Christ’s death on your behalf makes you righteous. You will never overcome sin on your will, your strength – only with the Spirit of God at work in you will you find victory. Jesus died for you as you are – He calls you to come as you are and find freedom in Him, to find eternal life in him.
Seek the truth. Yes, God will step out of time and space and disrupt your life, but today you have a new opportunity. You have the Gospels, the Bible, the claims of Christ, the story of God. You can find truth in these pages. You can look for Christ, and he will be found. A paralyzed man was lowered from a roof so he could meet Christ – he was healed and went away leaping for joy. Zacchaeus climbed a tree to get a glimpse of Christ – he had lunch with Him and found truth. A centurion searched for, and found, Jesus, concerned about his daughter, who was subsequentially healed.
I wrestled in high school. I learned the moves, I did stairs, worked on my fitness level, I bought the leather jacket. But I was only sort of like a wrestler. I wasn’t very good, and I would never be. I probably hold the shortest wrestling match in the history of wrestling. I was facing Allan Muir from Westwood Collegiate. He had the upper body like a gorilla – I don’t know how he was in my 119 pound weight class. I reached up to tie up his upper body and he grabbed me in a head and arm and squished me on the ground. Pinned. If you blinked, you missed it. The coach was speechless. The only way I would be a real wrestler would be to find a real wrestler and then put him inside me.
As odd as that sounds, that is what being a Christian means. You become the temple of God when you accept God’s offer of grace – Christ is in you, and because of that, you are more real than you could otherwise be. Your normal, everyday, mundane life will never be the same – how could it be? The Creator of the universe is your friend. You are on speaking terms with the one who made you and knows you inside out. In that sense, God taps on your door every day, leading you on a grand adventure of knowing Him, knowing yourself, and revealing His reality to the world around you. It doesn’t matter what you bring, how old you are, or how aware you are – you are in the Kingdom of God. Love God, love your neighbour, see what God will do. This week, look for God showing up, a close encounter.