Not So With You

By Scott McClellan

If you’ve been around IBC these last couple weeks, you know we’re talking a lot about something called God’s Kingdom. We’re exploring the idea that while God’s Kingdom will come in its fullness someday, we have the opportunity to experience glimpses of the Kingdom today. It’s a beautiful concept, but I confess I have a hard time getting my head around it. As I’ve tried to process what it truly means to pray “Your kingdom come,” I’ve found myself clinging to a short sentence from the mouth of Jesus.

In Matthew 20 (as well as Mark 10) we find the story of a woman asking Jesus for a favor. She’s the mother of James and John — two of Jesus’s 12 disciples — and she asks Jesus if her boys can hold the two most prominent positions in his kingdom. Jesus finds a way to shake the mom, which, let’s face it, took some skill, but then he’s left with 12 disciples huffing and puffing about this attempted maternal power play. In his grace Jesus takes the opportunity to teach his students that his kingdom operates differently than the kingdoms and empires to which they’re accustomed.

Jesus called [the disciples] together and said,

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." — Matthew 20:25-28

And there was the short sentence that has given me something to hold onto in this whole Kingdom conversation: “Not so with you.” It’s a sentence I’ve read and heard and overlooked for years, but I’m beginning to see how rich it is. In those four words Jesus says so much to his disciples about the Kingdom he came to inaugurate and the shape of the Church he intended to found.

Not so with you.

In those four words Jesus says, I see you. I see the way the world works. I see the way you’ve been taught to think and act. But. But you were made for so much more.

Jesus names the domineering, authoritarian, marginalizing tactics of the ruling class, and then he declares that anyone who follows after him will be characterized by service, not superiority.

Jesus says, Here’s the status quo, but you are kingdom people. So with my help you’re going to embody a different way.

Encoded in that sentiment is the liberating reality that Christianity is not merely a set of ideas to agree to, but a whole new life to be lived in the power of the Spirit and in the fellowship of the saints. This is not a philosophy to ponder, it’s a journey to set out upon.

Not so with you.

Four words that invite us to imagine a new world within an old world. Four words that call us to listen for the whisper of the Spirit beneath the dizzying decibels of modern life. Four words that represent the life-changing implications of seeking God’s Kingdom and yielding to his will. Four words that ought to inform every word we speak.

Not so with us.

We don’t take our cues from culture or our own base desires. We don’t accept whatever version of The Good Life is fed to us in beer commercials and retouched Instagram photos. We don’t pursue or perpetuate the peeling veneer of the American Dream. We have been rescued and are being renewed by the Lord Jesus, and so our lives move to the cadence of his heartbeat.

In God’s Kingdom, where he rules and reigns, there is deep, abiding joy. There is rest and respect. There is humility and sacrifice. Brokenness gives way to healing. Men, women, and children love God with everything they have, and they love their neighbors as themselves. This is the story we’ve been invited into. We will live this story in its fullness someday, but may our good Father open our hearts and our eyes to the glimpses that surround us today.

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