“God’s Kingdom Looks Like...”
Sermon: “God’s Kingdom Looks Like...”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from May 22, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
God's kingdom looks like… What does God's kingdom look like? And you know, so often for many folks, especially those of Christian persuasion we've grown up with these images of God's kingdom being this place we call heaven. You know it's that place where the pearly gates, and the streets of gold and all the rest of that. And we've made big things out of it. And we've got movies that have to do with people going to heaven. And we've got TV series about somebody that gets to heaven and of course, then they have to go back and correct something on earth before they can earn their wings or whatever. We've got Touched by an Angel, where we've got these messengers from God, they're sent down to help people work things out on earth.
It's this big thing for our arts to talk about what the kingdom of heaven is like and what the kingdom of God is like. And we don't know, as Lauryn said, nobody's gone there and come back to tell us. Yeah, we have incidences that have been recorded of people who have flatlined in the emergency room and then have been resuscitated and then they talk about these bright lights, but that doesn't really tell us what the kingdom is like.
We have people that have been recorded to have seen things. I know when my grandfather was in his last days. I went to see him in a nursing home, and he was telling me, he says, there's something that bothers me. I said, well, what's that? And he says, well, about four o'clock in the afternoon when I look up in the corner of the room, there's bright lights that kind of look like Christmas lights through a wet windshield. And I said, well, that's kind of a happy thing why does that bother you? I don't know who they are.
A week later, I went back to see him again and he says, I asked him if he was still seeing the lights. And he said, yeah and it's always about the same time of day. And I said, well, is it still bothering you? And he says, no, he says, I know who they are now. That was the last conversation you had with anybody, and he died at four o'clock the next afternoon.
Did he see heaven? I don't know. Was he seeing, at least in his mind loved ones that had gone on before? Don't know, he didn't tell me who they were. He just said he figured it out.
And it probably wouldn't have carried so much weight, except this is a retired preacher that was telling me this, who had done hundreds of funerals and been at probably hundreds of bedsides of people that were dying over his career. But we don't know really what the afterlife is going to be like. But we do know what the kingdom of heaven is like or supposed to be like here on earth, because Jesus told us that.
And our passage from acts today really gives us a good indication of what the kingdom of God is like. You see Paul, Paul who had as Saul been persecuting, the followers of Jesus went through his conversion experience. And now Paul is being told in the vision to go to Macedonia. Macedonia if you don't know your history and geography is current day Greece, and what was considered part of Greece at that point in time.
So Paul is being called to go to Greece and he very nicely in acts we have his trip itinerary mapped out and you can go on a map and follow, and it is a normal shipping route for ships that could only go certain distances dealing with Mediterranean weather. You know they had to get to where it was a safe port overnight. They didn't do overnight on the water. So, they follow the island chain around the end of the Mediterranean and on up to Greece. And Paul goes outside the city, goes outside the city to where they suppose there is a place of worship. Now, unfortunately, Acts doesn't tell us what Paul saw that made him think that there was a place of worship by the river, outside the city, but he goes, and they meet some women that were there.
Now here's the first real thing, a good Jewish man would never go and meet with the women by themselves. So, Paul and his companion, traveling companions, also men, go out there and here's this group of women and they start telling them about the gospel message, and Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. We have to understand a few things about Lydia now, a dealer in purple cloth meant that she had a very lucrative career. Because purple cloth was reserved for the rich, basically for the royalty. So, she's dealing in purple cloth. She is dealing with a top edge of society. That's number one point. She's used to dealing with the rich and famous, you know, all those people we see on ET?
But Lydia is also recorded here. It's recorded that after she and her household were baptized. Now that tells us something else. Lydia, was probably a widowed woman. Because she's the head of the household. Ss head of household if she was baptized so would her offspring had been baptized. So Lydia, a single widowed woman who Paul met down by the river, head of household dealing with a rich receives the gospel message.
Now Paul was not quite at the same level as Peter and James and John, and Andrew the fishermen, Paul was educated. He was used to bumping elbows with people that were a little better off, but he still had to go outside of his comfort zone to go from a place that he knew, areas he was used to travel. And going to the region of Macedonia meeting with women who, that was just not done. Preaching the gospel to people that were not necessarily, of, maybe they were, maybe they weren't of Jewish descent, baptizing them, and then going to Lydia's house when she invited them.
These are all things that went very much against societal norms. They went against all the rules of common decency. Paul going out of his area, meeting with somebody that's not, well, probably not Jewish. Meeting with females by themselves, going to the house of a female that is the head of household. All of these things were against society's rules, but Paul and his companions on this trip we're doing them because they felt that God was calling them to carry the message of the gospel and the God's love to that region, and to those people. He didn't go there looking for Lydia. He went there figuring he was going to be talking to maybe the local rabbi.
He didn't go there with the idea of baptizing, a woman, and a bunch of kids. He didn't go there with the idea of going and staying in the house of this unwed woman. But he did so because he felt God's calling to reach out with the goodness of the gospel God's love and grace that is for all people.
And then tie this back into yesterday. If you have, if you do Facebook and you looked at the church Facebook page or my Facebook page, you saw a pictures or a series of pictures of drowned rats yesterday with a caption: This is what it means to act as a Christian, instead of saying you're a Christian. Because serving others without question about why they're there, what their needs are without judging, whether you should be helping them or not, is what the kingdom of God is like.
That is what the kingdom of God is like. It's when we do things for other people without questioning what their motives are, or what their reasoning for being in that situation is. You know if we have somebody that comes to us and says they really need some help, is it our job to be questioning why they're asking for help? Or is it our job to be showing the love of God and Christ to them?
And there's a difference, now that doesn't mean we have people who've stopped by the church periodically, and we know who they are because they're here on a fairly regular basis asking for the same help, but always with a different story. Uh, we have one gentleman that comes by periodically that I'm not sure how many different health issues his wife, if he even has a wife really has. Because every time he comes in, it's a different story, but it's always the, his wife needs the money or needs the healthcare or whatever, as he's driving a pickup truck with dual tanks on it. And, uh, anyway, it doesn't mean we aren't careful, but we are not the ones that are really supposed to be judging, whether somebody else is deserving of God's love.
And God's kingdom is like serving others without worrying about who we're serving, without worrying about what we're going to get in return.
That's Gods kingdom. We can look at all the beautiful paintings in the world of the pearly gates and the streets of gold or angels on the clouds and all the cherubim flying around with their little harps or any of that kind of stuff. We can look at all of that, and that's not the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God isn't some future place that we call heaven. But it is here now when we are doing God's will. That's the kingdom of God. So we can see what the kingdom of God is like any time we look around and we see someone helping someone else for no reason, other than that they are another child of God.
Let us do what we can to live in that kingdom, and in this place, Amen.