Sermon:  I Pledge Allegiance… (#4 in Series: "Your Kingdom Come")

Summary:  The Gospels introduces Jesus as the king who inaugurates the promised 
Reign of God.  Even though there is a future consummation of the Reign of God, the 
Reign of God is also something in the present.  Jesus demonstrates that the Reign of 
God is present in this world, yet is an alternate system not of this world religiously, socially, 
economically, and even politically.  Jesus wants to transform the system of this world through 
a revolution of the heart, not a revolution of the sword.  Our place is to show the open door 
of the kingdom to those on the outside.

Know:  There is a sense in which Jesus' Reign is in this world and is lived out and practiced 
in the present time.  The Reign of God is relevant and applicable at all times and places.

Feel:  A desire to live out the Reign of God daily

Do:  Reflect on the nature of the Reign of God and how that compares to your past concept 
the "kingdom" of God.  List ways the Reign of God makes claims on us religiously, socially, 
economically, and even politically.  What are ways the Reign of God should change your life?

Text:  Mt 4:17-25

Scripture Reading:  Jn 18:36

1.  Once read about Bicycle race in India
	a.  Object to go shortest distance in a certain amount of time
	b.  If you fell over, you were disqualified
	c.  Imagine didn't know rules, you would lose miserably thinking you won
	d.  That is problem with the Kingdom of God
		- Many misunderstood the Kingdom through the years
		- Some made a mess of things because of it
		- Kingdom of God turns worldly values upside down
		- Since this was central message of Christ, we need to look at it
2.  Concept of Kingdom has been colored by culture over the centuries
	a.  Many spoke of "expanding," or "building"  the kingdom
		-  That a notion from Christendom, Constantine paradigm
		-  They equated the church with the kingdom
		-  Conquests were seen as expanding the kingdom
	b.  Jesus never speaks of us "expanding" the kingdom
		-  Words Jesus for what God does:  Gives Lk 12:32; 
		-  What we do:  We receive & enter Lk 18:17,  or belong Mk 10:14
		-  Kingdom is a gift granted by God and a realm in which we live
		- God expands it, we participate in his reign
	c.  Concept can be confusing
3.  What is the Kingdom?
	a.  Phrase - Basileia Ton Ouranon from Malkut Shemayim
		- Not "Kingdom" of God, but "Reign of God"
		- Lk 17:20-21 - Reign of God is not here or there, but in you, not a 
		   institutional entity, but a people
		- God will establish and restore a new Reign
		- This was the central motif in the preaching of Jesus
	b.  When does Reign of God come?  Jesus began with saying it is "near"
		- Mk 9:1 - Not taste of death till see it come with power
		- Lk 11:2 - Prays, "Your Reign Come, will be done…"
		- Lk 11:20- If I cast out demons by finger of God, Reign come upon 
		- Motif in Mark, Jesus announces Reign, then casts out demons & 
	c.  Other passages
		- Eph 5:5 - None of the wicked has an inheritance in the kingdom
		- 2 Tim 4:18 - Lord will bring us safely into his kingdom
		- 2 Pet 1:10-11 - Entrance to the eternal kingdom will be abundantly 
	d.  Kingdom in the future or the present?  YES
		- Reign of God has already erupted into this world
		- It is like Tie-Die - It is there, but not yet complete
		- Came with power when Jesus began an assault on evil in all its 
		   forms, whether demonized, sickness, oppression, sin, etc.
		- Full consummation not until the final trumpet sounds and the 
		   kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of 
		   his Christ and he will reign forever and ever - Rev 11:15 
4.  What is the nature of the Reign of God here and now?
	a.  It is not simply an institution
	b.  It is eschatological - There is a forward movement toward 
	c.  How do we characterize what that means?
	d.  (Matt 4:23-25)

I.  The Reign of God has a King
	A.  This means we have an allegiance
		1.  We pledge allegiance to the Lamb, the King
		2.  He is our Lord
	B.  Do we understand what that means?
		1.  Some people confuse American citizenship with Christianity
			a.  Being an American is not the same as being Christian
			b.  Jn 18:36 - Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this Realm"
		2.  Phil 3:20 - Our citizenship is in Heaven
			a.  Those are radical words
			b.  Paul did not identify himself as Roman, but as a Christian
			c.  Paul's identity was wrapped up in Christ, not civics
		3.  Our Kingdom identity trumps everything else
			a.  Acts 5:29 - We must obey God rather than men
			b.  We are Ambassadors sent as Kingdom people 
			c.  Even if our nation is just, laws based on godly principles, 
			     His Kingdom is still not of this world
			d.  History shown what happens when you confuse the two
		4.  Our kingdom identity transcends all boundaries
			a.  Geographical, ethnic, political, social
			b.  In Mt 4:25, Jesus ministers to foreigners
				-  Galilee, Decapolis, those beyond the Jordan
				-  The scope of Jesus ministry not limited to Jews					
			c.  We are sent to ALL peoples - Globally
			d.  Hard to do if you think of yourself as Americans before 
	C.   Ambassadors of Christ do not have an "American" agenda, but a 
	      Kingdom one
		1.  First and foremost in all my decisions is the mission of my king
		2.  As his subject, I do nothing that will conflict with his mission
		3.  Doesn't matter if it is my job, my political affiliation, my 
		     nationality, etc.
		4.  My ultimate identity is a Christian, My King identifies my agenda
	D.  Jesus is not president, not a congressman, mayor, etc.
		1.  Jesus is Lord, He is King
		2.  We don’t' vote, we obey
		3.  We pledge our allegiance to Him as our King
		4.  **Brings us to our next point…

II.  The Reign of God is revolutionary
	A.  The Reign of God is a radical challenges to the present order
	B.  Many words associated with the Reign of God are politically loaded
		1.  Examples:
			a.  King, Kingdom, Reign - Obvious this is politically loaded
			b.  Gospel (Grk: euangelion; Heb: rashab) 
			     - Official decrees or announcements of long hoped for fulfillment 
			       of peace.  An example is the announcement of the birth of 
			       Augustus as the Gospel, since he brought forth a new order/age 
			       of peace (Pax Romana).  "Gospel" is rarely used in the Septuagint 
			       and in thecases where it is used, it translates the Hebrew word, 
			       "glad tidings" where it is in reference to God establishing a new of peace.
			c. Announce, Herald,Preach (Grk: kerusso, kerux, kerugma) 
			     Used of public, authoritative announcements (usually from a 
			      king or other ruling official).  Interesting choice of words for 	   
			      preach, since there were other words that were not as 
			     politically loaded as this one.
			d.  "Proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom" is a politically 
	     		     loaded statement
		2.  Means the Gospel of the Kingdom is engaged with here & now
			a.  Not just about religious rituals on Sunday or the hereafter
			b.  It is about Kingdom living in the here and now
			c.  It is a challenge to the present structures of the world
		3.  Some misunderstood how this was to take shape
			a.  Jn 6:15 - Going to take him by force and make him King
				- Fed 5,000.  They would make a nice army
				- They were ready to revolt
				- Jesus withdrew
			b.  Jesus never aligned with the Zealots
			c.  They had a worldly paradigm for Kingdom
		4.  How does this challenge the present structure?
			a.  Look at how Jesus challenges the concept of greatness
				- Kingdom will usher in a new order
				- His disciples wanted in on it…
			b.  (Mark 10:35-38)
				- James and John wanted greatness in the kingdom
				- Not given out for asking, had to drink cup of Jesus
				- What is he talking about?
				- (v.39-45) - Becoming a slave
			c.  (Phil 2:3-11) - Sketches out the "cup" that Jesus drank
				- Considered others ahead of himself
				- Poured himself out, obedient to death
				- Humbled then exalted
			d.  Jesus demonstrated a different kind of revolution
				- Jesus conquered
				- Didn't use power as world defines it
				- Didn't use worldly methods
	C.  ILL:  Operation Auca in the 1950's - Group of Missionaries to Equador
		1.  Nate Saint was pilot, son asked him if he would protect himself 
		     and shoot them if they attacked
			a.  Answer:  We can't shoot the Waodani, they are not ready 
			     for God, we are
			b.  Four men were speared to death by them at the river
			c.  Wives didn't give up, didn't retaliate, still reached out
		2.  The tribe was perplexed as to why these missionaries didn't 
		      shoot at them and why they never retaliated
			a.  You would think they would at the least go home
			b.  You would have expected them to defend themselves
			c.  But Ambassadors of Christ do not kill those they are 
			     reaching out to
		3.  Eventually, one of the tribe, Kimo, breaks his spears and vowed 
		     never to kill again
			a.  He devoted himself to follow the man-maker's "carvings"
				(man-maker=God;  "carvings"= Bible)
			b.  Eventually, the tribe is converted, killings stop
				- When faced with enemy tribe, they said, "Even if you 
				   spear us, we will not spear you"
				- Their whole character changed
			c.  No longer called "Auca" but their true name, "Waodani"
			d.  Auca meant "savage"
		4.  They now "brethren" of those who killed close family members
			a.  Steve Saint met the man who speared his Father
				- According to Waodani tradition, supposed to avenge
				- The man worried about this
			b.  Steve extends mercy to the man
				- "No one took my Father's life, he gave it"
	D.  This is the kind of Revolution Jesus brings
		1.  Jesus revolutionized revolution
		2.  Jesus topples the current order
		3.  Not a revolution of the sword, but the heart
		4.  This is the most pervasive kind of revolution there is

III.  The Reign of God is an assault on evil
	A.  Not just spiritualize it away, it was a true practical revolution
	B.  (Matt 4:23-25) - Proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom - A new Order
		1.  In doing so, he launches an assault on evil in all its forms
			a.  Sickness, death, demonization
			b.  Also against oppression, arrogance, dehumanization
			c.  Ultimately against sin and evil in every form
		2.  Demonstrates the Kingdom is a challenge to current realities
			a.  Ethnic, political, social realities
			b.  The Rein of God transcends these things
			c.  If they are ungodly or oppressive, Reign challenges them
		3.  Reign of God is a city set on a Hill in the midst of the World
			a.  Turns the world upside down
			b.  Examples:
				- Return kindness for insults, forgiveness not revenge
				- Give things away to the poor to become rich
				- Greatest are least, bestow more honor on the least
				- Power is found in weakness, wisdom in foolishness
				- Master and Slave became brothers
				- Instead of hating enemies, you love enemies
			c.  In the Reign of God is an alternate reality - City on a Hill
		4.  Kingdom people do not turn a blind eye, but engage evil with the 
		     Gospel of the Kingdom
	C.  ILL:  How kingdom people launched an assault of compassion
		1.  One example is Mother Teresa to the poorest of the poor
			a.  When turned to the West, in American, deeper poverty
			b.  In Calcutta, extremely easy to feed a man a bowl of rice
				- He was happy, grateful to you and to God
			c.  In USA, can give all you have to poor, they still not happy
				- They not as destitute on the outside
				- But there is a hunger that cannot be fed with food
				- It is a poverty that crosses class lines
			d.  Found a poverty of Spirit
				- People are hungry to love and be loved
				- People are hungry for God
				- How are they going to find God?
		2.  A Church in a big city (Don't remember which city)
			a.  Group of Christians decided to reach out 
			b.  Filled trunk full of food, muffins, gloves, etc.
				- Went to park where there were homeless & destitute
				- Handed things out, some were suspicious at first
				- Did this twice a week, began to know people
				- Prayed with, got to know them regularly
			c.  As opportunities arose, they shared God
				- Their message was credible
				- Some became Christians
				- Someone donated some space, had worship there
			c.  A "church" formed, if you want to call it that
				- Became a bright spot for the destitute there
				- Even took up an offering at worship, lent dignity
				- Many picked up stuff, trash, etc. and brought it, 
				   didn't come empty handed.  All they had
				- Offer it to Mayor, we cleaned the city
			d.  Nothing to gain from it financially, or for an institution
				- Remember Jesus didn't come to establish institution
				- There was a sense of joy, peace, and freedom
				- These Christians would give you the only piece of 
				   food they had if you needed it
				- But they now had purpose and hope, and a family
		3.  Reign of God is forward looking
			a.  Will not "fix" everything here
			b.  We do what we can as a witness to the heart of God
			c.  We offer a foretaste in the Reign here
		4.  Eventually Jesus will come and consummate his reign
	D.  We may not be able to launch an assault with miracles as Jesus did
		1.  However, we have been granted all we have
		2.  We are stewards with resources to participate in mission of God
		3.  We are a city set on a Hill
		4.  Take stock of what you have.  How are you using it for the King 
		      in his mission?

1.  When you accept Jesus as Lord, he invites you into his Reign (Invitation)
2.  If God has given you the Kingdom, you are a part of his "pilgrim" people
	a.  Kingdom concerns are what order your life
		- They will be upside down values, like the bike race
		- Different set of rules
		- Will reorder your life
	b.  If you have mixed allegiances, kingdom concerns become confused 
	     with worldly ones
	c.  We are moving toward the consummation of the kingdom
	d.  In the meantime, we participate in God's Reign
3.  We have been given resources to participate in his Reign
	a.  Since He is King, it all belongs to him
	b.  We participate in his Revolution of Hearts
	c.  We participate in his Assault on all forms of evil
4.  We are blessed with many resources
	a.  Take some time to list them
	b.  Consider how God is calling us to use them for his kingdom
	c.  I'm not going to bury them in the ground any more
	d.  Looking forward to hearing, "Well done good and faithful servant, enter 
	     into the joy of your master."


Small Group Notes:  I Pledge Allegiance

Summary:  The Gospels introduces Jesus as the king who inaugurates the promised Reign of God.  
Even though there is a future consummation of the Reign of God, the Reign of God is also something 
in the present.  Jesus demonstrates that the Reign of God is present in this world, yet is an alternate 
system not of this world religiously, socially, economically, and even politically.  Jesus wants to transform 
the system of this world through a revolution of the heart, not a revolution of the sword.  Our place is to 
show the open door of the kingdom to those on the outside.

Open (Optional, choose one)
- When was the last time you had to fight a crowd to get something you wanted?
- What was the best news you have heard over the last year or two?

Explore:  Mt 4:17-25; John 18:36

1.  The phrases, "Proclaiming (or Heralding) the Gospel (or Authoritative Good News) of the Kingdom 
(or Reign)" is a politically charged phrase in the Greek language as is the term "King" and "Savior".  
There were other ways to have said it that were not as politically charged.  What does this suggest about
 the nature of the Reign of God in relation to the present order?  

2.  During the early period of the church, many unbelievers believed that the Christian movement was a 
threat to the current order (whether social, economic, political, religious, ethnic, etc).  In what ways were 
they wrong?  In what ways were they right?

3.  Since Jesus was heralding the coming of a New Order, what does this new order mean?  What do his 
actions that accompanied the heralding of this new order suggest?  What does it suggest for Kingdom 
citizens today?

4.  Jesus indicates that the Reign of God is yet to come (Lk 11:2; 2 Pet 1:10-11) and has already come 
(Lk 11:20; Rev 11:15).  In what way is the Reign of God made present today?   In what way is it still to come? 


5.  How do these concepts of the Reign of God compare to your past concepts of the Kingdom of God?

6.  What are ways that the Reign of God makes claims on us religiously, socially, economically, and even 

7.  Identify some of the rivals to the Reign of God today.  (Most will probably be fairly subtle).  

8.  In what ways should the Reign of God change us?

Prayer:  "Your Kingdom Come"