You want the first-fruits of the kingdom, but you don’t want the King.
You want justice, but you don’t want the wisdom and final authority of the eternal Judge.
You want dignity, but you don’t want the Creator who knit you together and cradled you safely in your mother’s womb.
You want worth and purpose, but you don’t want to know the Maker who sang with joy as he formed your innermost parts.
You want your freedom but you don’t want to be covered in your Brother’s innocent blood. You don’t want to owe him anything.
You want the full inheritance, in advance, but you don’t want the Prodigal Father who is watching for you; longing for you to come home.
You want to sit at the table, full of feasting and fine wine. You expect a complete welcome, honor and toasting, full acceptance. But you don’t want to know or give thanks to the Host.
You want to be trusted and respected. You want to be seen and heard. You want to be understood and believed. But you don’t want to trust or obey, listen or follow, hope or believe in the Good Shepherd. You don’t want to be counted a sheep.
You want to be seen as clean. Beautiful. Lovely to behold. But you want the radiance and honor of the bride without wedding the Bridegroom.
You want grace for your mistakes, but you don’t want forgiveness from the One who made himself accountable for every one of your sins.
You want your pride celebrated, without encountering the Son of God who became shame and scorn and a laughing stock.
You want your rights, but you don’t want to see Jesus staggering, scourged, forgiving, and making peace on the way to the cross. You don’t want to see all that Christ gave up to free you from every pride.
Dear church – the opportunities before us are endless! Because of Jesus, we are a new race. A new people. A new family. We are the first-fruits of God’s kingdom come, enlivened by his own spirit to lavish his blessing on the world he loves.
We are the Father’s adopted sons and daughters, welcomed by the Son to share in his great feast. Why? So we make room at the table for the hungry and thirsty to taste and see the extravagant goodness of heaven.
So let’s go out and welcome the world’s raging hunger and thirst. Let’s welcome the longings and the deep desires rooted in every person created in his Maker’s image. Let’s welcome, even, the threats and the insults and the scorn.
And then let’s offer them the wine and joy of heaven: Jesus.
And let’s do so with great boldness and thanksgiving! Because we have a King who is making all things new and whole. We have a faithful Older Brother who is striding through this world setting everything to rights.
Will we join him? Will our lives be a taste of the welcome and warmth of heaven to a weary, angry, and hungry world?
Because God’s kingdom has come! And the family he has fathered – his church – is the humble means he intends to bring his shalom to all the earth, just as it is in heaven.
Peace to you and yours.