Servant of the Kingdom

After predicting his death, two of Christ’s disciples began jockeying for positions of high status in his coming kingdom. Thinking according to the ways of this world and its concepts of political power, they did not yet comprehend what kind of Messiah Jesus was, and therefore, what it meant to be his disciple. But he would soon demonstrate graphically just how anyone achieves “greatness” in the kingdom of God.

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Obedience unto Death

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul points to the obedience of Jesus as the model for proper conduct by his disciples. His willing submission to death on the Roman cross sets the pattern for his followers. And his subsequent elevation to reign over all things is the result of that “obedience to death,” for exaltation did not precede death, but followed it.

The Apostle summons believers to conduct themselves properly while living in a hostile culture, and that begins by “standing fast in one spirit, with one soul, joining for the combat along with the faith of the gospel.”

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Spirituality

Overused today, the English term ‘spiritual’ is virtually meaningless. To some, it is synonymous with religion. To be religious is to be spiritual. To others, it refers to things that are not of this physical universe, things and beings that are supernatural, otherworldly, noncorporeal, invisible, and timeless.

In popular preaching, one who is “spiritual” can peer into the “spirit realm” where, supposedly, physicality, visibility, and time do not exist. It is not just an alternate reality, but a higher realm of which our physical existence is but a pale imitation.

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God’s Power & Wisdom

Jesus performed miracles, exorcised demons, and taught with great authority. For a time, he attracted great crowds. Nevertheless, his contemporaries failed to recognize who he was despite his miracles and preaching. In the end, only the Roman centurion at Golgotha recognized him as the “son of God” when he breathed his last.

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Discipleship & Suffering

For disciples, retaliation and violence are NOT appropriate reactions when persecution does occur. Rather than respond in kind, they must meet threats with humility, mercy, and love. This is what it means to “deny yourself” and “take up his cross.” And while praying for one’s “enemies” is contrary to the “wisdom of this age,” it epitomizes the paradigm of Christ crucified.

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