Grace is messy. The Church is messy! Why? We can only point to the human element. With grace, people we would never think would be deserving get it, and people we deem “good” by our own standards don’t seem to get the grace we think they deserve (or we deserve). In the Church, it’s the same thing. It’s a mess. People don’t always participate as they should (statistically, 10-20 percent of the church across America does 100 percent of the work, and it leans toward the low end), and many are there to receive, but not actively participate in the body. I’m not saying this to be mean, but it’s something I have observed in different churches across different states, and there are several studies and shared experience with church leaders that support this. This mess gives rise to complaints, politics in the church house, and divisions of all sorts, and, if you compare the Scriptures to the world, a worldly mess in a spiritual place.
In all of this, we need to understand one thing: the Kingdom of God cannot be taken by force. It is the place where the greatest among us will be the servant of all, and a sign of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives is how we love and submit to one another. The Kingdom is gained by following Jesus and being born again, and a sign of that is in the outward expression of the inward work of God through the Holy Spirit. In other words, we are saved by grace through Faith, works don’t save us, but the evidence given (by Jesus and the Apostles) is in love, service, and submission to God and to one another. We aren’t saved by checking off boxes. We’re not told to enter boldly in to the Throne of Grace to demand our way, but to humbly submit to God in all things, even our petitions and requests. Loved ones, if this steps on your toes, I want you to consider that it steps on mine as well. We are none of us deserving of grace. None of us can stand before God, or, indeed, the cross of Christ and make demands. We must humbly submit. We must love and serve. We must be born again, and it is here that we will see, clearly, the Kingdom of God and our purpose in Christ.
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.