Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

The Upside Down Kingdom: The Kingdom Reversals from Luke's Gospel

by Bob Young

Gospel: Luke 22:24-30

Introduction

What do you want written on your tombstone? Have you considered? "Here lies John Smith. Died, 1949, Buried, 1969." Certainly a disgruntled wife. "I told you I was sick." From an attorney: Final Decree. From a husband: Thrice married, thrice hen-pecked. Another attorney: the Defense rests. What is the epithet for your life? Reflection of what your life is about.

Study today in Luke. Reversals. Good Samaritan, grateful Samaritan, prodigal son vs. elder brother, Lazarus and rich man, Pharisee and publican. Reversals reflect principles of greatness. High to be brought low, low to be made high. Acts 17:6, turned world upside down. Reminds me of a popular children's song: "I'm Inright, Outright, Upright, downright happy all the time."

Our subject today is the Upside Down Kingdom, introduced by the reading from Luke 22:24ff.

Among Gentile pagans, world, society, even our culture....authority is used, abused, misused, lordship and superiority are valued, better than you, positional authority.

These people are given titles, Good Ruler, or take titles, or call themselves good rulers, but may not be so seen by followers.

We are today familiar with this world--selfish, individualistic, each for self. Rights without responsibilities. Stretch limits, take advantage. If Christians are not careful, we adopt such thinking and actions.

So observe...If this hierarchical model is stable, right side up, normal, heavy at bottom, typical triangle, may seem ok. But even so, is not to be so in church.

Principles

Church is upside down. The world works in one way, but you should not be like that! Note four principles.

I. EQUALITY.

All are equal. All matter. Lowliest is as important as highest. Young-old. Educated-uneducated. Rich-poor, temporary college student--permanent members, top-bottom, master-servant, teachers-students, elders-members.

Normally, v. 27, the greater is the one at the table. Note the rhetorical question. This cannot be an accurate description of the kingdom, for Jesus Christ came serving. Note the parallels in Mt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45.

Jesus' willingness to serve, to suffer, to give, are evidence of his servant heart. Servant leadership. His willingness to give self for others. In this kingdom (vs. 29), all are equal.

II. MINISTRY.

Service. Those at the top serve and submit to all the others. When you get to the bottom, you have arrived at the top. Greatest is least, least is greatest. Lowly are exalted, greatest is last. To humble self is beginning of exaltation; to exalt self is to come to nothing. First are last, last are first. Imagine it, "I'm last, I'm last...." Emphasis in this upside down kingdom is on service, ministry. Purpose of leaders, task of leaders. ad-ministry, to move others toward ministry, Eph. 4:11ff.

Finding is losing, losing is finding. Nonsensical by world's standards. Saving for self is losing and giving to others is receiving. Ac 20:35.

III. MUTUALITY.

Fellowship, koinonia. Church is family, but in one sense, more than family. To say family is incomplete, one-sided, only one facet.

Koinonia is togetherness, end of isolation, no Lone Ranger Christians. Not saved in isolation, not keep saved in isolation. No member isolated from others nor ignored when church is functioning normally. No member should isolate self.

Mutuality is submission. Rethink Rom. 12:5. We belong to one another. Each submits to others, each seeks welfare of others. Must know, be known. Implies there is no human hierarchy. Mutuality means no manipulation, coercion, only willing service.

Mutuality is possible because in following example of Jesus Christ who served, we empty self, consider selves as nothing. Essence of this upside down church is, "Can I give myself away?" How often? To how many? How much can I be like Jesus who is my example, Phil. 2:1-11.

IV. LOVING.

We hear much about love today, yet misunderstand. Often love is mushy, oozing, useless. Real love serves, submits, gives, as in John 13. No greater love. Love obeys, meets needs, cares, acts.

CONNECTING WITH ONE ANOTHER. Opportunities are about us, service, we are a loving and serving community. Networking, organizing, serving one another, meeting needs, encouragement.

CONNECTING WITH GOD. We seek to walk with God, spiritual strength. Commitment to the cause of Christ, dedication to the direction of the divine being.

CONNECTING WITH OUR COMMUNITY. Lovingly serving our community through the gospel in a meaningful way that builds relationships, diminishes loneliness and alienation, honors persons made in the image of God, and seeks friends forever.

Conclusion

Finally, in summary, whole story told, this is about service, because in the upside down church, everyone serves. All seek a place of service, ministry. May be no more important question than, "Where can I serve?" What can I do? Where can I give my life?

You are giving your life--for something, some cause, some priority, some value. Not all at once, as we say, "he gave his life for his country." Or, "Jesus gave his life for me." But one day, our epithet will be written. He or she gave a life for _________. What will go in the blank? Will it be spiritual? Heaven? Christ? God? Others?

For you, regardless of who you are, where you are, how far from God you may be or might have been in the past, regardless of what sins, Christ can wash them white as snow in the watery grave of baptism through the death of the old person and the newness which is promised in Christ. Christ awaits with open arms to welcome you home, if you will only decide, decide for him, decide to come. Decide today, decide now, for Jesus, for service, for ministry, for the only thing that matters for eternity. As we stand and sing.

See Also:

The Servant Leader
by Michael McCartney

Christians: Use Your Time to Seek Greatness!
by Pastor Karl Walther

St. Bartholomew Sermon
by The Rev. Dustin L. Anderson

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for Golden Friday

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