God’s Kingdom

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Luke 10:30

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

It will always be inconvenient to serve the Lord. Prepare yourself mentally that serving the Lord will always cost you something. It will always demand that you die to yourself in order to mean something in God’s kingdom. It will interfere with your personal life. If you do not want your personal life to be upset, your life will not mean anything in God’s Kingdom. If you are unwilling to die to yourself, pay the price and suffer discomfort, you will mean nothing in God’s Kingdom. If you are not prepared for this, you may as well close your Bible and leave because you will not get anywhere with God and you will get nothing out of this service. The Samaritan’s program for that day was turned upside down by this man he had to care for.

God’s love has two components. Christian perfection means to be right with God and because of that, be right with your fellow man. This does not mean that you live a perfect life where you never have to say I am sorry or apologise, then you are not a living image of Christ but a dead statue. People will run away from you because you are too angelic for them. They cannot identify with you because you are strange. If we do not care for God and the people around us, we do not have the love of God in our hearts. The love of God always means being in the right relationship with God and as a result, your relationship with your fellow man will be correct. If you only focus on being right with God you will be something strange in the world. Your Christianity will not work. In order for it to work, you must love the Lord and you’re the people around you. You must be willing to rub shoulders with your others, share their emotions and become emotionally involved with them because this is the love that Jesus had. God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son to the world. If the Son had not come, He could still have loved the world but it would have been a strange love – a love in the mind, a love we would not understand. We understand God’s love because He entered the world and was willing to become like us and be tempted as we are. There is vertical love and horizontal love. Jesus said that if you cannot love your brother whom you can see, how can you love God whom you cannot see? If you cannot love the brother whom you share a room with but you can spend hours with God, love Him passionately, fast and pray in order to please God, this will be a strange love which people cannot understand because they cannot see it. If on the other hand, your love is only horizontal love for your fellow man, without love for God then you fall into socialism and even Marxism. You will only be busy with the people around you and forget about God. You will be busy with things in this world which will consume you. If you love money, it will devour you. If you love any worldly thing such as sex, you will continue with it until it consumes you and leaves you an empty shell. If you are concerned with your own comfort, it will consume you and you will consume it until it becomes nothing. It could be your appetite or your theology. If you leave God out of your theology and only concentrate on people, it will become empty and eventually no longer stir you. With noble things such as love it will be the same. You can practise love but without God in the picture, it will become empty. If you only concentrate on one level – either love towards God or love towards people, it will end in hopelessness and you will end in bitterness. You will become disillusioned and disappointed with what is happening. How often have we not seen this? People who do not keep their relationship with God and their relationship with their fellow man in order, end in bitterness, despair and hopelessness. They leave here but they do not accuse themselves, they accuse the Mission and their bitterness and hopelessness is directed towards the Mission.

This Samaritan had compassion on his fellow man but he also loved his God. Did Jesus not say this? Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbour as you love yourself. When we combine the love of God with the love for our fellow people then our Christianity will work and be practical. If not, it will produce a humanistic love or a theology which encompasses a love for God but means nothing to those who live around me. You will end up as a bitter person who finds fault with everyone around you because you are disappointed with your faith and with what has happened in your life. We do not find this in the life of this Samaritan. He loved God and the next man.

Allow me to use the wounded man as an image of the Kingdom of Christ. We often do not realise what we are doing to the Kingdom of Christ. Friends, remember whatever you do in this life you may be doing to the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus. Do not make the mistake of focusing on people. Some examples from the Old Testament illustrate this concept: David sinned with another man’s wife, Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah and she became pregnant. (Thank God he did not tell her to go for an abortion. I am sure there were ways to kill the unborn child at that time such as poison which the mother could drink to kill the child or use a needle inserted into the womb to kill the child. I do not believe that they were unaware of the concept of abortion then.) Thank God David did not worsen his sin by aborting the child but he killed someone else – the husband of the woman and immediately took the woman as his wife so that people would think the child she was carrying was his. When David realised his sin, he did not ask God to forgive him because he had sinned against Bathsheba and defiled her because she was another man’s wife. He did not point a finger at her and accuse her saying that she should have said no. He admitted that he had defiled her. He saw his own sin. When things go wrong in your life, do you see your sin or the sins of those around you? You will never find forgiveness from God as long as you place the blame on people around you. As long as you make yourself out to be innocent, it is impossible to receive forgiveness from God. You will appear with that attitude before God’s throne and blame Bathsheba saying it was her fault. In order to receive forgiveness we must admit where we have sinned. David did not say that he had sinned against her or her husband because he killed him. In Psalm 51:4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight… He realised that he had sinned against God and damaged God’s kingdom on earth.

When Israel was disobedient in the desert on the way to Canaan, Moses interceded for them and asked God not to destroy them because people would ask what kind of a God is the God of Israel who could not bring His people safely to the Promised Land? The destruction that God had planned would damage God’s kingdom in this world. When we sin, we do not sin against people only, we spoil God’s kingdom in the eyes of people. Our disobedience does not hurt the people around us but it damages God’s kingdom. Many people are blind to this. David realised it. He said against You alone have I sinned. I have damaged Your kingdom and brought shame on Your name. The shame on God is so much more than the hurt we cause to people around us. When God led Israel into Canaan and they conquered the city of Jericho, one man stole some cursed things from the city which God had said must be left behind. Israel lost the next battle against Ai. What did Joshua say? Lord, what will the people say if we are conquered now? They will say you do not care for your people because they are conquered. The sin of Achan caused the nation to lose a battle which brought shame on the Lord’s name because it reflected on how God looked after His people. Whatever we do in this world, whether it be murder or destroying people’s lives, we bring shame on God’s kingdom.

When Israel was disobedient to the Lord in the desert, God said that He had had enough of them and would wipe them out. Moses’s response was, “What will the people say? They will say that You could not take care of Your people. You took them out of Egypt but you could not take them through. Have mercy on them.” We go through this life and do many evil things but our biggest sin is not against people but God.

Look at the example of Jonah. He sat outside Nineveh wanting it to be destroyed but God wanted to show mercy on them. Jonah was unconcerned about God’s feelings towards the people and how much He loved them. He was busy with his own things. The citizens of Nineveh were the enemies of Israel. Jonah allowed his personal hatred towards the people to rule him and not the concerns of God’s kingdom. The Ninevites were a danger to Israel and Jonah wanted them destroyed. He do not care about God’s feelings. He had a personal grudge against the city. Friend, are you allowing your personal grudges to go against God and his kingdom? Maybe there is someone you do not get along with, who makes life difficult for you and you want God to get rid of him. You do not see God’s heart about that person and what is important for God’s kingdom. Jonah sat outside the city under a wild plant. He had a personal vendetta against the people and wanted them destroyed. When the plant withered away he was upset about it because he was only concerned about himself.

I would like to compare the injured man who was bruised and beaten to God’s kingdom that is bruised and beaten. Souls are going lost daily but we do not care, we walk past like the Levite and the priest. We do not only ignore but even attack the Samaritan who is helping the injured man. You have a problem with Samaritans because you are a Jew. Here was a Samaritan binding up the wounds of a Jew and you criticise the Samaritan because you have a personal grudge against Samaritans. When the Samaritan took him to the inn, he offered to pay whatever money was necessary and you criticise the Samaritan for the money that he spends on the wounded person – so much money? You ask the Samaritan who gave him the right to spend so much money on a Jew? Meanwhile, a soul is being saved but you do not care about that because you have a personal vendetta against Samaritans. You attack him in spite of the good he is doing. You may say this is a fairy tale, it cannot be true but friends, it is happening now. We live in a time when evil has increased so much that people will attack the Samaritan, they will mobilise others to kick the Samaritan out of the community because he is doing something that is unacceptable to Samaritans – caring for a Jew, one of those who has discriminated against the Samaritans. People do not realise that this Jew is God’s kingdom. His kingdom lies bruised. What do you care about that? Godless laws are being passed in our country, what do you care about that? Are you concerned or are you like the priest who walks past. Abortion laws are passed but you do not care about that. One day people will stand before God and He will say, “I was lying bruised there on the road but you did nothing about it.”

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

The unborn child can become an orphan in the womb. His mother wants nothing to do with him, she wants to get rid of him. She takes no responsibility for him. He is an orphan – close to his mother’s heart but an orphan. The law is passed and abortion is allowed. All kinds of filthy laws are passed in our country – sex education – God’s kingdom is bruised in our midst. There are syndicates that distribute drugs. What are you doing about it? We attack the Samaritan because he does not know the law of God. We claim that we should take a stand against him. You do not realise that you affecting to God’s kingdom. Souls are saved and daily there are people who are snatched out of the devil’s hands but you want to destroy what is being done because there is this thing between you and the Samaritans. You will stand before God one day and say, “God, I protected the right doctrine.” The Samaritans had the wrong doctrine according to the Jews, they did not believe that they should worship in Jerusalem but in Samaria. This is what is important to you. You are on a personal mission. What am I saying to you? Think very carefully about what you are doing to others. When you want to commit a crime, steal money, convince a girl to sleep with you, God’s kingdom is being bruised and beaten through what we do but we do not care about that.

How can people distract you? They will make you curious. You want to know all the stories and people come and speak to you. The devil is clever as well as people. They will flatter you saying, “I want to share something with you because I do not feel free to share it with my counsellor but I feel free to share it with you.” You feel blessed because someone feels free to speak to you. You do not admit it but pride develops in your heart because you are trusted with secrets and you just listen. “The counsellors on the mission do not understand,” you say, “people just need an ear that can listen to them. I will not answer anything. I will just allow the people to come and speak to me.” You gather information about everything that happens. Knowledge puffs up – not only the knowledge that comes from books and studying. You become puffed up because of all the knowledge you have gained from the happenings on the mission. “No, I’m not taking sides,” you say, “I am just listening because people need someone to listen to them when they speak about their troubles. The counsellors do not allow the people to speak about all the stories that trouble them.” You are becoming the rubbish dump. All the filth and rubbish gets dumped into your heart. “I will look at the facts, judge carefully and throw aside that which is unnecessary,” you say. But your judgement is affected because there is sin in your life and Paul says that sin entangles. A burden of sin does not affect your back only, it grows in your heart and it influences the way you think. You are proud because you know everything that is happening on the mission. People speak to you and not to their counsellors. Pride spoils your discernment and when you open your eyes again, the things you have heard have begun to influence you. You are no longer objective and sober in your judgement. Slowly but surely this rubbish begins to affect you and change your mind. You think you are such a wonderful person but you are being spoiled and defiled by what you hear. Be very careful of sin. What will happen in the end? You will become an enemy of God’s kingdom which is being built on the mission. There are hundreds of souls who are being saved here every month, but you become an enemy of that and join those who criticise the Samaritan and you miss out on what has been happening in God’s kingdom.

I want to plead with each one, be part of those who see God’s kingdom bleeding there and who jump in and do something about it. We do not have time to sit outside like Jonah under our little plant and wait for Nineveh to be destroyed. The Samaritan realised what was happening. The priest did not realise it. He walked past. Why he walked past, I do not know. Maybe he had had an argument with his wife that morning and he did not need this in his life as well. Maybe the priest excused himself because he had duties at the temple and he did not have time to help the man. They did not realise that they were walking past the bleeding kingdom of God. They did nothing about it.

In Matthew 7:22&23 Jesus says  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Friends, if we want to remain part of God’s people who save His kingdom, remember what I said, you will have to die to yourself. Do not stop dying to yourself. Do not jump ship and run away. You will have to change your plans. If you decide to walk past and declare that you can no longer walk with the Samaritan because you cannot approve of all that he is doing, may God grant that where you go, souls will be saved and that daily people will come to the Lord, surrender their lives to the Lord and turn from their wicked ways so that you do not end up in a dead ministry.

In 1979 I stood alongside the airstrip and watched as Reverend Stegen climbed into a plane, together with some coworkers, to take services. Aunt Thofozi was one of them. We sang and waved them goodbye. I was a very young Christian at that time and I stood next to someone whom God used mightily in His work. He turned to me and said something I will never forget: “I want to be part of this revival no matter what it costs even though it means dying to myself a thousand times.” A few years later he packed his bags and left. Reverend Stegen remained alone as the Samaritan. From that time until this present day, he has been the same, binding up the wounds and helping those who are injured. I want to be part of this revival and what God is doing here. I repeat these words in fear and trembling even if I must die a thousand times I want to be part of God’s work to the glory and honour of God’s name.

KwaSizabantu Choir