Kids of the Kingdom
Posted on 11/13/2005 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Just for this week, we are serving this message using the old server, so if you have a problem with it skipping, just open a browser and go to livingsounds.org/message, and you'll hear the message from the beginning. Also, if you're coming in late, you're hearing this from the beginning, so just join us in the fellowship room next door when it finishes for you, for our time of fellowship, ministry, and discussion. Please hold all questions or comments until then.
This morning we're going to do something a little different. Instead of preaching a sermon, I'm simply going to tell you a story.
When Jesus was walking the earth in his now-glorified body, he told lots of stories. And the messages behind those stories fill countless volumes of teachings and commentaries.
God, in his mercy, has not directed me to share endless ramblings about simple stories with you this morning.
The name of my "message" this morning is "Kids of the Kingdom." First, let's pray.
Lord God, thank you for being our Father. Thank you for adopting us into your family, for giving us a home forever with you and all your children. Thank you for giving us peace, joy, hope, direction, purpose, and love. Speak to us this morning. We're always so busy, and our minds are always going in a million and one directions. Help us to quiet our minds for just a little while this morning, as we bring our attention and focus onto you and your beauty and love.
And it's in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
"Kids of the Kingdom"
There once was a king of old, who lived in a land rich with gold; he had many kids, but although they were his, they wandered like sheep from the fold.
There once was a ruler of night, who hated the kingdom of light; he took the kids' gold for his "pleasures untold," in exchange for his poisoned delight.
"There are so many orphans," the good king said with a sigh. "They are wandering about in the darkness, hungry, naked, and cold."
His own children having forsaken him, there was plenty of room in his castle, and if that were not enough, he would gladly call the builders to make room for more.
So he called his servants together, sending them first to his own sons and daughters, calling them to return home.
But his own children hated the servants, for they had been poisoned with the evil ruler's rancid delights; and they beat them, and killed some of them, and refused to return to their home.
Time and time again the king sent servants and messengers, but the children would not come home. Although they were treated horribly by the wicked ruler of darkness, they would not return to their home of light.
This dark master had many servants, who set traps for the children. Some of them tried to get loose, but in the process they would often lose a hand or a foot. Yet the children refused to be set free.
The ruler of evil would send his servants to beat the children, and steal their husbands and wives, and rape and kill their young. Yet the children of the king refused to go home, often blaming the good king for the evil things the dark king would do.
"Much better it is for us," they would declare with great conviction, "to live in this darkness, where we can eat poison if we desire, or play with rattle snakes, or jump off cliffs. Here we can go naked in the winter, or wear heavy coats in the summer."
"In the darkness we can hide, being held accountable by no one, for no one knows where we are or what we're doing. We may run into trees or stumble over rocks, gashing our heads upon broken glass, but it is so much better than what we had before!"
Reflecting upon the life they had left behind to follow the prince of darkness, they would say, "Life with the king is dull and drab. Listen and we will tell you what misery we would suffer if we were to return:"
"We would walk in the light, where we would see and be seen. If we traveled in the night, we would be expected to carry a lantern, but then we couldn't do whatever we wish, because others would see us and tell the king. And we think those hypocrites have no right to judge us!"
"We would be told to stay away from tasty treats that are layed around for us, just because they are in traps that could take off our hands and feet, or by which we will be dragged into the evil ruler's dungeon."
"We couldn't go around dirty and smelly, but would be expected to keep ourselves clean. We would be expected to keep our teeth brushed, instead of having the liberty to let our teeth be crusted with rotten food, as they rot and fall out."
"Besides... The king says he loves us. Surely he must be a pervert! In fact, we're not so sure he even exists. If he DOES exist, he's probably not at all like you say. You say there is only one way to go to him. That is SO narrow-minded! Common sense tells us we can find our OWN way to him here in the dark, where only we are accountable for what we do!"
And enraged at the imagined stupidity of the king's servants, they treated them shamefully, cursed at them angrily, and laughed them to scorn.
Reporting all this to the king, the wounds of good king's servants were cleaned and bandaged. The king them told them to go back into the darkness, but this time to not call just the lost children of the king, but to call for whoever will come.
"Go to the hungry and the naked and those who are bound but want to be free," the king instructed. "There are many children out there who are not mine. Invite them to come to me."
Most of the children did not come, because they loved the darkness that hid them so they could do whatever things they wished to do -- things that hurt themselves and others, in exchange for a piece of rotten food or a little bit of short-lived pleasure.
Some of the children accepted. The traps that had caught them were opened, and the ropes and chains that bound them were loosed.
Many of the children were afraid to come into the presence of the king. The older children, and those who were considered leaders among them, would often tell the others that getting too close to the king was a bad thing to do.
Some of the children taught that since they had been set free, they could do whatever they wanted to do. And yet those who listened found themselves caught in traps and bound with ropes and chains once again.
Yet there were some of the children who came into the presence of the king. He welcomed them with open arms, and washed them clean, and put new clothes on them. He nursed their wounds with healing ointment, and set his seal of adoption on them.
The king's court was decorated with fine silver and gold, filled with happy servants who danced before the king. The table was set with plentious food, and the jeweled cups were filled with new wine.
"In my presence," the king proclaimed with delight, "is fullness of joy! At my right hand are pleasures forevermore! Come, gather about my feet, my children whom I love with all my heart, and I will teach you the paths of life." (Psalm 16:11)
Day by day, he taught those who would come into his presence. The things he told them seemed sometimes difficult to understand, yet at the same time, they were all very simple.
"When those who walk in the darkness tell you which way you should go, don't follow their advice," he would tell them. "Don't do what they do, laughing at and making fun of others."
"Think about the good things you have here with me, and the abundance of life that I have given you. Outside there are traps. Stay far away from them. Any delights that don't come from me and are not on my table, have nothing to do with them. They are poisoned, and are hiding traps set out to catch you."
"If you follow my instruction, you will be strong, and will blossom and grow. You will walk in the light, and you won't be afraid of the night, because you are walking in the light."
"If you obey my voice, you won't be led astray back into the darkness. You won't be bound again by ropes and chains, and led off to the wicked ruler's dungeons to serve him in exchange for stolen bread."
Some of the children obeyed faithfully. However, many of them would see a treat lying under a bush or beside a tree, and would take a taste, declaring to themselves, "This isn't so bad! The king wouldn't mind too much if I just tasted a little here and there."
The poison in those treats clouded their minds, just as the king had warned, and invisible ropes and chains were tied about their hands and feet. Eventually they forgot what it was like to sit at the kings feet, and they were content to come to the outer courts and go no further.
If they wanted to get closer to the king, they could not, because the invisible ropes and chains held them back.
Many of them were depressed, and all of them were made sick.
"The world is about to be destroyed," the king warned his children. "It has been so corrupted by darkness and evil, and many of you are still tasting of its fruits, and thus you have death and darkness inside yourselves."
Some of the children who tasted of the fruits of the evil one knew that he was talking to them, while others insisted he was talking to someone else.
"What a selfish, boring king he is," some of the children began to say, "and how he takes away our fun! 'Don't do this... stay away from that...' Everything that's fun, he tells us not to do!"
"'Stay away from snake holes, don't feed the bears, don't pick up cakes and candies that are lieing around,' because they supposedly are rotten, poisoned, and hide traps."
And so many of the children wandered away.
But many of the children came to the king and confessed what they had done. To their surprise, the king was not angry, but instead lovingly took them in his arms. He washed them clean once again, and began to loosen the ropes and chains. He reminded them to stay far away from anything that did not come from him. And he poured his healing ointment on their wounds, and restored to them the joy of being his children.
Just as the king had promised, the world was destroyed, and with it the poison, the traps, the ropes and chains, the dungeouns, the torturers, the evil ruler of darkness, and all those who walked in his ways.
But the children who played in the good king's courts, who sat at his feet listening to his voice, who sat at his table, eating his food and drinking his drink, and who obeyed his voice, those children lived forever in the joys and pleasures of their king, who adopted them as his very own sons and daughters.
And they called him "Father," and "Daddy," and "Friend." And he gave to each of them a white stone, with a new, special name written on it that was theirs and theirs alone. And he taught them a new song, and gave them all glorious crowns. And forever they lived in the courts of the king, laughing and playing around his feet, eating at his table, and singing and dancing for joy.
And the good king, who loved them with all his heart, smiled with delight; for his children were safe and full of joy for all eternity long.
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father!" (Romans 8:15)
"Our Good King, our Father, our Daddy, our Friend... All of us in this room have tasted of forbidden things. Each one of us has done our own thing when we could be in your presence being filled with righteousness, peace, and joy in your Holy Spirit.
But you love us none the less, and your arms are open for us this morning. And so, Father God, we choose to let go of everything that is holding us back from you, and we fall into your arms. Embrace us now, Father. Fill this virtual room with your Holy Spirit, and may each of us feel your touch of love and power, as we surrender to your perfect and beautiful ways and your will for our lives.
For those of us who are not yet part of your family, your invitation is for all of us, and you don't prefer one person over another. We ask you to forgive us for our sins, and make us part of your family. We believe in and follow you, Jesus!
For those of us who have strayed away from you, and who now inevidably have invisible ropes and chains on our souls, we ask you to forgive us for not following and loving you with our whole hearts, our whole minds, and all our strength. Please set us free this morning! Take us in your arms. Pour the oil of your Spirit upon our wounds, mend our broken hearts, and purify our minds so we can walk once again in your light, and feast at your table, and dance in the light and joy of your presence.
We ask all these things in the wonderful name of Jesus. Thank you Lord! Amen.
Now let's go next door to the fellowship room, and share with one another the joy of the Lord!
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13 NRSV)