Most people in the United States live in the Kingdom of Man. Their priorities are wealth, entertainment, and acceptance, especially on social media. They want those things and find a certain amount of satisfaction in striving for and attaining them.

How different that is from the Kingdom of God. Jesus made contrasts between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man in his sermon on the plain, found in Luke six.

The first contrast is with wealth and riches. Jesus says to his disciples –

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.”

To get a better understanding of what Jesus was trying to communicate, it is important to define three words from his radical statement. The first word is blessed.

Blessed is translated from the Greek word makarios and can also mean happy or fortunate. Perhaps a better way to understand this word is to think of being happy because one is blessed by God.

Kingdom is another word to be defined. It means a realm associated with or regarded as being under the control of a particular person or thing; the spiritual reign or authority of God.

The last word to consider is poor. It is the Greek word ptochos and is also translated destitute, helpless, powerless to accomplish an end. It is a much stronger word than what we normally think of with the English word poor.

With these definitions in mind, Jesus seems to be saying, “Happy are you who are destitute and powerless, for you are are most welcome in the realm of God.”

Those living in the Kingdom, or realm, or normal world of humanity, surely find the above statement to be most ridiculous.

The rich, young man of Mark 10 certainly thought so. He comes to Jesus and asks him what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus ultimately tells him, “Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.”

The conclusion? The rich man went away sad and grieving for he was very wealthy. He was essentially telling Jesus that he would take a pass on the whole eternal life thing because his “Life”, his “Kingdom”, was firmly rooted, embedded and controlled by his riches in the Kingdom of Man.

Jesus tells his disciples that it is hard for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God. Peter pipes up and reminds Jesus that he and the other disciples left everything to follow Jesus. They were basically destitute. They had nothing but the clothes on their backs. Jesus assures them that no one who has left house or family for the gospel’s sake will fail to receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, and in the age to come, eternal life.

The message? Those who are poor, economically and spiritually, and realize that, and follow Jesus, eventually become rich in ways beyond their imagination, and those who are rich economically, and believe they have no need of Jesus eventually become destitute, maybe not in this life, but definitely in the life to come.

That is illustrated in Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus.(Luke 16:19-31) The rich man dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury everyday. At his gate was a destitute beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.

They both died and the angels carried Lazarus to Abraham’s side in heaven. The rich man found himself in Hades, where he was in torment. He was so destitute and powerless that he begs for Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool his tongue.

The tables are turned, just as Jesus taught in Luke 6.

Verse 20 – “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.”

Verse 24- “Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.”

Other contrasts between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man that Jesus makes in this chapter:

Verse 21 – Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

Verse 25 – Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.

Verse 21 – Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Verse 25 – Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.

Verse 22 – Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.

Verse 26 – Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

The choice? She’s a clear one. As humans, we need to recognize our need of Jesus. We need to recognize our spiritual poverty; that our hunger for happiness and satisfaction can only be filled with Christ; that we mourn for lack of justice in this world and realize hope can only be found in Him who promises us that one day we will laugh and all will be well. Choose the Kingdom of God over the Kingdom of Man.

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“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” Psalm 133:1 (NIV)

The Bible teaches that God loves us and wants us to be happy. This truth is found throughout scripture. The verse above, from Psalm 133 is just one example. David proclaims a pleasant life can be had when God’s people live in unity. The definition of “pleasant” is giving a sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment.” Happy satisfaction. Something we all dearly want. God’s people need to live together in unity to enjoy that happy satisfaction. Unfortunately that is easier said than done.

My wife and I minister at a home for needy children in Oaxaca, Mexico. It is a community with staff members from different countries and cultures, age groups and denominations. Possibilities for misunderstanding, offense and dissension abound. Sometimes we are frustrated with our brothers and sisters and wonder why they “don’t get it”! “Why don’t they do it like I do it?” How can God’s people possibly live in unity in this kind of community, or any community where humans come together with different backgrounds, levels of education, agendas, priorities and worldviews?

I think the Lord’s Prayer goes a long way toward instructing believers about how to live in unity. I see eight principles that can help a Christian community maintain unity and enjoy pleasant lives.

Our Father

The first two words of the Lord’s Prayer are key to God’s people living in harmony. “Our Father” signifies two import things. Number one, it’s not just “my” Father, but “our” Father. It’s not all about me and my relationship with God, but about the entire community of faith relating to God and each other in an edifying manner. Second, we do not address our prayer to “God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth” or to “Our Higher Power”, but to the Father. “Father” points to a close, loving relationship. The Father is the head of the Christian family. Father knows best! And while he is “a Higher Power” and “God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth”, he is also “Daddy”. Our Daddy, who loves his children and wants them to be happy, just like most daddies.

Holy Be Your Name, On Earth As It Is In Heaven

The next three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are connected to the phrase “on earth as it is in heaven”. I always found it odd to pray that God’s name would be “hallowed” or “holy” because it is already “holy”. It was only until I realized that the prayer is asking that God’s name be holy on earth “as it is in heaven” that I came to the true significance of those words. I imagine the holiness of God in heaven, which is a mix of his righteousness, love, goodness, beauty, truth and power, and I pray, the community of God prays, that these attributes would be manifest in the world. In our community. When the people of God see these attributes in their Holy Father, and attempt to live them out, they enjoy pleasant unity.

Your Kingdom Come, On Earth As It Is In Heaven

We imagine what God’s kingdom in heaven must be like, full of peace, happiness and love, and ask God to manifest this Happy Kingdom of love and joy among us, as we focus on the Good King, who also happens to be our Daddy.

Your Will Be Done, On Earth As It Is In Heaven

We only experience pleasant unity when God’s will is done in our lives, our churches and our Christian communities. God’s will is summed up in two commandments: love God with your entire being and love your neighbor as yourself. Living a life of love, agape love, is the rich soil that grows happy unity.

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread

This phrase is important for two reasons. The first reason is the two words “today” and “daily”. Evidently Jesus wanted his followers to pray this prayer everyday. To meditate, consider, ponder deeply and focus intently on the words in this prayer everyday. The second reason is that we too often take our “daily bread” for granted. We pray for world peace or economic security or a loved ones salvation, the Big stuff, but neglect to pray for our daily bread because we feel we provide that for ourselves. We believe we are capable on our own of getting our daily bread. In reality it is a gift from our Father of lights, because he graciously gives us the capacity to either make our daily bread, or more often, earn the money we need to buy our daily bread. We also need daily spiritual bread, God’s Word, to not only survive in this world, but to thrive as a Christian People, living in unity. We should take neither our physical bread or spiritual bread for granted if we want to live pleasantly together.

As We Forgive Those Who Sin Against Us

Christians sin. Christians make grave errors. Christians offend one another. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book about living in Christian community called Life Together. Early on in this delightfully helpful little book, he writes about how many times Christian communities brake down because people come into the community with a “wish dream”. When a Christian comes into a faith community, he often thinks he is entering a utopia where everyone is perfect and each person loves one another perfectly. Bonhoeffer says that “God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams.”

Unfortunately all Christians offend, disappoint, and hurt other Believers, usually unintentionally, sometimes intentionally. Two things can result from the sinful behavior of Jesus’ Followers. One is that “hurt people hurt people”. Hurt people retaliate and get revenge on those who have offended them. Of course that destroys any hope of God’s people living in pleasant unity. A better response to being hurt, is to forgive those that hurt us. Just as Jesus forgave those who hurt him, like the Roman soldiers, the religious leaders, and you and me. So we are to forgive those who sin against us, as God, for Christ’s sake, forgave us. This leads to a flourishing Christian community living in unity.

Save Us From The Time Of Trial

Some denominations say “lead us not into temptation.” Other denominations don’t use that phrase because it sometimes causes confusion as people get the idea that God will lead us into temptation if we don’t pray otherwise. Lead us not into temptation” simply means don’t allow hardships or bad things to happen to us that might tempt us to doubt your goodness. In other words, “save us from the time of trial” means that God will put his hedge of protection around his people that they may be confident that he loves them and and wants them to be happy.

In the Christian community, when somebody does something awful to upset another person, or at times the whole community, some people might leave the group thinking, “I thought they were a Christian. If that is how Christians act, then I don’t want any part of them.” When we pray, “save us from the time of trial”, one of the things we are praying for is that that situation would not occur.

Deliver Us From The Evil One

Number one on Satan’s To Do list is to destroy unity that the people of God cherish. He has a well equipped tool box that he brings out regularly to disrupt and ruin any harmony that exists. His favorite tool is gossip, but he also likes to use pride, envy, and slander, among others. First Peter tells us that the devil is a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) Fortunately, he is no match for Jesus, the Lion of Judah, who is ever diligent to deliver us from the attacks of the Evil One, allowing the people of God to live in pleasant unity.

At times, Christian unity, living in harmony with one another, can be difficult, but we can rejoice in the faithfulness of our heavenly Father, who, as we see in the Lord’s prayer, strives to help us build heaven on earth with his daily good gifts, forgiveness, saving grace and power that overcomes threats from the Devil. Let us be faithful to regularly pray this prayer, meditate on the words that Jesus taught us to pray, and put them into practice as the Lord gives us opportunity. Then we can be sure to enjoy happy satisfaction living in Christian community.

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