“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
What does it mean for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? Throughout the Gospels we read that Jesus came “proclaiming” and “bringing”- (enacting) the kingdom of God. This coming kingdom was accompanied by healing and great acts of compassion. Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes- a description of kingdom people. Most parables begin with the words, “The kingdom of God is like”. This kingdom is wherever and whenever the King reigns and some day, because of His completed salvific work on the cross His Kingdom will come on the New Earth exactly as it is in heaven.
It should be OBVIOUS from an honest reading of the Gospels that Jesus expected His disciples (US) to master the lessons He taught and actually LIVE a kingdom life- to actually practice illogical acts of compassion, unreasonable amounts mercy and stunning amounts of forgiveness. Clearly this Gospel of the kingdom of God… is a Gospel of grace. This Good News is that in God’s kingdom GRACE abounds. It’s Christ’s vision of the world and how it should be AND how it WILL be. If Christianity is about anything, it is about forgiveness. It is about grace. If we are to live as kingdom people, we need a recovery, a re-discovery of the core- the central- Message of Jesus- the FOCUS of the Christian faith: forgiveness. Indeed, in our best moments the gracious melody of forgiveness is heard as the recurring theme of our faith. The kingdom of God is a place where GRACE abounds.
The Kingdom comes when grace abounds. The parable of Jesus – like the story of the Vineyard workers in Matthew 20 leave the listener with head-scratching disbelief- how is it that one could work all day and another work for one hour and ALL receive the same compensation? Jesus taught “the new math of grace”. It’s not about human merit; but about divine forgiveness. It’s not about earning wages- in the kingdom of God the last are first, the weak are strong and there IS NO counting. Living in the kingdom, Jesus says, is not about religious moralism; it’s about a complete reorientation to the Gospel of grace.
What is grace?
Justice is getting what you deserve. Could’ve started with the word “revenge”- which we see a lot of in our world- that’s when someone does you wrong and you pay back with more than what you deserve.
Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Now, James tells us that mercy triumphs over justice (James 2:12).
Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
To live the grace-filled life means that we see grace- not simply as a means toward salvation but as a WAY of LIFE. That’s why you’ve been forgiven- so that you might LIVE forgiven. Grace demands a radical love and a forgiveness- in the final analysis forgiveness is an act of faith. I’m trusting God to be a better justice-maker than I am. Too often we know we should forgive, we want to forgive, we almost forgive, but in the end we realize we cannot forgive- we are too just. My need for justice trumps my ability to forgive. But in James 2:13 the Bible says that, “Mercy triumphs over justice”.
“The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20-21
So, among God’s people, grace “abounds” (it overflows, it thrives, it increases). How does it “abound”, increase? It abounds, it thrives through us as God’s people when we extend grace to others.
Luke 14:15-24 Jesus tells the story of the Master who is planning a grand banquet and he tells his servants to go and invite certain people to come. One by one they offer excuses and say that they cannot come. The Master opens the invitation up to all and extends as invitation to the banquet to the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. The kingdom comes when grace abounds!
Grace abounds when…
1. We embrace God’s forgiveness. When God forgives He sees you as though your sin never happened. Can you forgive like that? You never will- until you realize that change won’t happen through ‘trying harder’ but only through encountering the radical grace of God. There is so much in your future but you’ve got to leave the past behind you! You need to bury the past- what could’ve been, what should’ve been, and how justice must be served in the life of that individual who has hurt you.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
2. We become agents of God’s forgiveness. Christians sometime believe in a theology of grace but not a lifestyle of grace. Grace abounds when we take on the heart of Jesus. As kingdom people we are administrators of grace dispensers of His grace- we peddle, (we tout, we push) grace… here’s the picture of a kingdom person: wherever they go, they are so filled up with God’s grace- it abounds, it overflows, it spills over on to everyone they encounter. Have you ever met someone like that? Here’s how you spot them: they are kind to everyone. In fact, to the point that it doesn’t make sense- if grace doesn’t make you say, “Wait a minute…that CAN’T be right”, it’s not grace. Because grace, by it’s very nature is NOT fair. It is a most unnatural act. Grace-filled people have lots of friends- and lots of friends who don’t look like them. Following Jesus will always take you into relationships that make you uncomfortable.”
Grace-filled people are joy-filled people. Grace-givers are FUN to be around. They’re the people you want at your party. In fact, they know how to party! Don’t miss this: Jesus is saying the kingdom of God is like a party. It’s a feast! And why is it that so many Christians are unhappy, tight, grumpy, and solemn?! They have never truly embraced God’s grace. Because grace-filled people are constantly overwhelmed by the grace they’ve received from God- so much so, they want you to experience as well- so they show you what grace looks like. You can spot grace-givers. Are you one of them?
3. We decide to include everyone- especially those who are undeserving. We must determine that we will include everyone in this kingdom party. Everyone is invited to be a recipient of my love. I will show NO discrimination as I dispense this grace that I have been given.
4. We introduce others to the Grace-giver Jesus.
Everyone is welcome… the kingdom of God is all-inclusive (or more correctly- exclusive to those who come undeserving, humble, and contrite before God.
As we apply this as a church family- we’ve said that as kingdom people- we are a Gospel-centered church- and this Gospel is the Gospel of grace. Grace leads to inclusion (the central point of this parable in Luke Grace leads to diversity which should lead to more grace. That’s the Church!
A sign you’re growing in grace: You realize Jesus ALWAYS writes stories of mercy, of grace, compassion, and reconciliation bigger than you would. Join Him in writing a story of grace today.