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“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near.
Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 NIV)
We don’t have to die and go to Heaven before experiencing the Kingdom of God. When we were baptized, we were brought into the Kingdom by the price Jesus paid for us on the Cross. But over the course of our lives, we have been taught the ways of the world. Now, we have one foot in the Kingdom and one foot in the world. Jesus is inviting us to let go of our attachments to the world so that we can enter fully into His Kingdom and experience His unconditional love each moment of every day.
Our worldly attachments are bags of garbage that weigh us down and cover us over. None of these can enter into the Kingdom with us. They don’t fit through the gate. If we hang onto them, we don’t fit through the gate. Jesus said:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14 NIV)
Are you rich in the ways of the world?
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 19:24 NIV)
God is inviting you to become wealthy in love and all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and all of the treasures of His Kingdom.
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20 NIV)
Let’s take a look at some of the baggage that typically keeps people out. The guards at the gate are telling us we can bring in nothing that we have earned, nothing we have made, nothing of the world that has helped us survive in the world. They are telling us, in the most gentle fashion, that we don’t need anything in this country. Everything is provided free and clear by Our Lord Jesus Christ. He paid for it all on the Cross. Outside of the gate are blood stains. The guards are pointing at them and saying, “He died for you and in doing so, purchased you a home and all that you need to live in this Kingdom. Even if you could bring in your own possessions, there is no use for any of it here.”
So, here is where we place down on the ground the belongings we don’t need in God’s Kingdom, next to other people’s old belongings, in order to fit through the gate and live in His love fully.
No “conditional love” is allowed in God’s Kingdom. It’s not really love anyway. The attitude of “If you make me happy, I will approve of you and accept you and be nice to you” is a huge load of garbage. It’s not love at all.
There is a bag where we store the garbage that other people threw at us. We’ve kept it so we could have it to throw back at them when the time came. We don’t need that anymore.
We also have a bag of self-righteousness. This bag is called Pride. We definitely don’t need to bring that in. Jesus is proud enough of us. Self-pride is worthless.
There is a box of bandages that we used for healing our wounds whenever anyone hurt us. The label on the box says Self-Pity. We don’t need it now because Jesus will take all our blows for us. What others do unto us they do unto Jesus (cf. Matt. 25:45). We will never get hurt again where Self-Pity will soothe our wounds better than Jesus does. And if we do get hurt while living in God’s Kingdom, it will be the pain Jesus asks us to bear for the sake of loving another who is outside of this Kingdom, so that they, too, one day, will enter through the gate.
There is a big bag called Self-Worth that we have to leave on the outside. Jesus will show us our true worth, and it is far greater than what we think it is.
Look at this really big bag filled with “doing things my way.” In the Kingdom of God, everything is done God’s way, the best way, which is the only way. We don’t need to worry about how to do things anymore; God will show us as we move forward each step of the way. Our own way is full of dark pits, jagged rocks and dead-end roads. God’s way is straight, smooth, open and never-ending, leading us exactly where He wants us to go, which is the right way to go. His way never leads us down the wrong path. Our ways were always hit-and-miss, and they usually led us to the wrong path.
We also have to drop our earthly shields. We made them to protect ourselves from the fiery darts of the devil and the cruel behavior of people, but in fact they were easily penetrated by any object. Even harsh words broke through! As we hid behind them, the only thing that these self-made shields kept out was the goodness that’s in others. They did not block out the bad but had the opposite effect: They encouraged the bad in others, which then got hurled at us. Later, when they tried to show us their goodness, we grabbed the garbage that they had thrown on us and hurled it back from behind this stupid shield. We definitely need to leave this thing outside of the gate!
There are other bags that we are trying to bring into the Kingdom of God with us, and we don’t even realize they are hanging on our backs. The gate guards are seeing them and trying to tell us we are not allowed to bring in anything. Yet there we stand, trying to convince them that whatever we are wanting to bring in is something we will be needing in the Kingdom where God provides everything good.
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:26-27 NIV)
Dear Father God, help me to see what worldly bags of garbage, what sins I am trying to hold onto as I simultaneously try to live in Your Kingdom. It is such folly to try to do both! Forgive me, Lord, and help me to identify and let go of all my bad habits, addictions, unloving ways, and worldly wisdom. With Your gentle but persistent help, I will live more fully in You and Your ways ~ I will live more fully in Your LOVE! And this is worth giving up everything for. Increase my desire to get rid of everything that is not You. Amen!