If you were Jesus, who would you put forward as the quintessential example of the kingdom of God? Jesus had some choices at hand. How about brash, self-confident Peter? Jesus didn’t point to him. How about well-known followers like Nicodemus or James and John? Again, there were serious problems with all of them and Jesus didn’t point to them. So who do you put forward and say, Everyone, when it comes to my kingdom, this is what I am talking about?
How to Have a Kingdom-First Marriage
Be clear with each other what the purpose of your marriage is
People get married for all kinds of reasons, but a Christian marriage must have one purpose as the guiding and uniting principle of their marriage—to honor and glorify Jesus through their marriage.
Talk about the King (spiritual conversations)
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 ESV)
Talking to our family members happens naturally. Having spiritual content to those conversations doesn’t. God knew this and made it a command in Israel. We can talk about the weather all we want, but bring up something spiritual and you get…crickets. Kingdom culture requires kingdom conversations. Not only is it an opportunity to teach our children, but the conversation itself elevates the culture of the home toward the things of God.
How often do you talk about spiritual things? Talk about what God’s doing in your life or our church? How often did you talk about it this past week?
Cultural Indicators That Jesus is King of Your Castle
His kingdom is the first priority
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
This key verse in Matthew summarizes the whole Christian home culture well. There is a higher purpose to the family than just the family itself. Too many families fail on this point when they elevate the purpose of the family to be the family or the success of the family. We will talk about this more in the coming weeks. Marriages fail when the marriage is the first priority of the marriage. No marriage can sustain that high of an expectation and it devastates the couple when the marriage fails to deliver. Family is the same. Make your family the purpose of your family and it can only deeply disappoint. God designed family to be deeply satisfying as long as the family is not looked to as an ultimate standard.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:23 ESV)
Are you familiar with the show Undercover Boss? This past week’s episode the undercover boss was the Mayor of Gary, Karen Freeman-Wilson. I really enjoyed watching it because Mayor Wilson has been a very helpful partner with our Gary campus and the City Life Center. So it was fun to watch someone local on the show. She cleaned up the beach where we do our baptisms each summer. The way the show works is that the boss, CEO, or president of a company goes undercover and works alongside unsuspecting employees to see what it’s like to work on that level of the organization. Then in the end there is the unveiling of who he or she really is and they give out gifts or not depending on what the boss saw. Some are praised. Some are fired.
Imagine the waste treatment plant of Gary on Thursday, the day after the show. The mayor was here? Really? Or in the maintenance shed, the mayor drove the trash pickup? Can you believe it?
Why does the show work? Nobody expects the mayor to stir the human waste in the waste treatment plant. Mayors aren’t known for lowering themselves to do such things.
The manger was just like that only on a much grander scale.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2 ESV)
Am I Like the Wise Men?
The wise men put to shame the Jewish Scribes and the King of Israel. How? They aren’t supposed to be here in the first place. They are Gentiles. They are the people group that destroyed the temple and kidnapped the nation’s leaders and wealth. They are pagan idol worshipers by birth, not good Jewish boys. They practice astrology, which is condemned in the Old Testament.
But who did Jesus come to save? Who flocks to him while the religious types resent him? It’s the prostitutes and the tax collectors and the Gentiles, and yes, the astrologers. The Gentile astrologers bowing before Jesus were a microcosm of all that Jesus’ story would unveil.
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah…” (Matthew 1:1-6 ESV)
The Repulsive Genealogy
What is most surprising about this genealogy is that Matthew does the opposite of what ancient genealogies tried to do. They glamorized the pedigree. Modern genealogies do the same. Hitler expunged certain aspects of his family tree to hide some Jewishness found there. People change their names if there is something unsavory in their family story. We want to highlight what makes us look good and hide what makes us look bad.
Matthew does neither. He highlights Jesus’ royal line but goes out of his way to highlight the distasteful and even repulsive parts of Jesus story. There are real skeletons in Jesus’ closet.