“… for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 NIV)
The scriptures mention Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Christ, kingdom of priests, and even just Kingdom. What is the difference and what are the similarities? Are they physical places or something else? Since we are in the book of Matthew, the only place that seems to use “kingdom of heaven”, I will explore that.
Matthew 20:1-16 starts with, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” This is the parable Jesus tells of the landowner who pays the same wage to all the workers even though they were hired at later and later times throughout the day. The parable ends with “the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
The kingdom of heaven in this passage is not a place. It’s a relationship based on God’s rule (the landowner). This explanation fits with Matthew’s use of “kingdom of heaven” in chapter 5:
- Verse 10 says those who are persecuted for doing right will receive the kingdom of heaven. The persecuted give up safety in exchange for a relationship with God based on his rule in their lives. God becomes more important than the things or places of this world.
- Verse 19 says if we ignore God’s commandments and teach others to do the same, we are called least in the kingdom of heaven. But if we obey and teach others to do the same, we are called great in the kingdom of heaven. Our obedience builds relationship with God as he empowers us to live out and teach the kingdom of heaven on earth.
- In verse 20 Jesus says our righteousness has to surpass that of the Pharisees and teachers of religious law, otherwise we will “never enter the kingdom of heaven”. Again, this is not about a place but a relationship based on God’s rule. Our righteousness is based on our relationship with Jesus, not on our own efforts as the Pharisees were attempting to do. They were stuck on rules, laws, position and pride. This was not the way of God’s rule! The Pharisees were building the wrong kind of kingdom.
Our Connection Pointe global partners understand they are poor in spirit. They understand it so well that they have given their lives to building the kingdom of heaven on earth.
- Ryan in the Middle East, helping the privileged understand their spiritual poverty
- Rut and Mariela in Guatemala, bringing hope to the economically poor in Los Verdes. The learning center is a refuge for children, where fun, food and learning combine to open opportunities for teaching on God’s kingdom presence in their community.
- Miss Pearl, positioned in a kingdom outpost in a tough Chicago neighborhood to offer hope to young mothers and their children. At Good News Daycare, they all hear the good news of Jesus!
The poor in spirit are blessed because they have received God into their lives and are now part of his community with all its resources and relationships. That’s a very rich life to live!
With the kingdom of heaven as ours, why would Jesus go on to say, “Blessed are those who mourn,”? Are we about to lose something?
Til next week,