Serving as the Arizona Diamondback’s chaplain, I recently had chapel with the Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. Throughout 2019, Baseball Chapel is having each of their chaplains teach through the Gospel of Matthew and it has been awesome.
I recently taught on Matthew 14:13-21 when Jesus is feeding the five thousand. The Kingdom of Heaven, one of Jesus’ main themes in Matthew, is not about doing the “bare minimum”. It is about having a relentless pursuit of doing extravagantly more than we could even grasp or imagine. In this passage, the disciples wanted to send everyone home so they could eat, but I don’t think that was totally the heart behind their motives. I think they were gassed (rightfully so) and wanted some serious down time. There was no interest in going the extra mile.
Jesus was constantly displaying to the disciples what the Kingdom of Heaven is about and how to live it out here on earth. We don’t have long here on Earth so we can’t get wrapped up in trying to advance our "little kingdoms” or our agendas because they will eventually die with us. We must continue to see this life from the perspective of Heaven’s Kingdom. Jesus has gone to great lengths to make His Kingdom known to us and we must not be timid in our pursuit to serve Him and make Him known. Religion tries to figure out how far we can push the “line” and still be accepted into heaven. Following Jesus is not about pushing the “line”, but about how close can we get to this King that loves us relentlessly.
A few months ago, I was having a conversation with Abbey, my oldest daughter. She was frustrated with the choices a classmate was making. Abbey offered her sound, godly advice, but her friend continually rejected it, to the point that Abbey came home all fired up. After a few hours, I asked her what was going on and she filled me in on her side of the story. I asked her why she felt the need to be a “spiritual sheriff”? I told Abbey that is not the way of the Kingdom. We are called to love others and to serve others, not to try and control how people think and act.
One of the biggest obstacles we face when it comes to building our own kingdoms is trying to control every outcome so that it benefits us. Jesus has called us to trust Him and when we do that our kingdoms will seem insignificant compared to His. I don’t doubt Abbey’s heart and I don’t think she was trying to build a kingdom for herself, but I do think she was starting to go down a path the King has instructed us not to go down. Jesus hasn’t asked us to take control, He has asked us to “follow Him”. I can tell you from personal experience there is no peace when I lead or try to take control. The way of the Kingdom of Heaven is about trusting our King, learning His ways and walking in them!
Walking with Jesus and in His Kingdom way does not mean struggles will not come your way. It has been 5 years since our daughter, Ellie, was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. When that storm hit, we all gathered in tight to hold on to our King. The “rain” falls on those who build their houses on sand AND those who build on the Rock, the unrighteous AND the righteous. The “rain” exposes what you are building your kingdom upon.
If our family was building our kingdom on sand, then we would have collapsed under the weight of Ellie’s diagnoses. Even though the “rain” was painful, we knew that Jesus was still King and He won’t ever be removed from His seat of power and authority. When we recognize Jesus as King then we don’t have to become a king ourselves. We get to rest in Him! Ellie is doing great now. Our hope wasn’t in Jesus healing Ellie. That was our prayer, but our hope was in Jesus being a great King who is incapable of making mistakes.
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39). We must learn that the way of Jesus and His Kingdom far exceeds any earthly kingdoms we could want or build. My goal as a follower of Jesus isn’t to make a great name for myself or build a kingdom that man would applaud, but to trust Jesus and go the way of His Kingdom. When I do that everyone gets blessed!