Continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom. The secrets of the kingdom of God have been given to us (Matthew 13:11). Jesus came to share this kingdom message (Luke 4:43). So I'm examining different passages related to this kingdom message.
First let me tell you a story.
Mary believed in Jesus, and felt the call to serve the poor. She spent many hours serving in a soup kitchen downtown. She cared for the outcasts and less fortunate. She built relationships with many of them, and would often be seen praying with them for their needs. She couldn't fix all their problems, but she knew that God loved these people and could provide for their needs. She gave of her time and resources to partner with God in His work.
However Mary had been tricked and mislead early on by some bad influences. You see, she grew up in a Christian tradition that had a lot of really bad theology. They believed stuff about God and His church that simply were not true. She followed the teachings of some religious leaders that had a strong influence in her life and beliefs. Mary was one of them, and would usually support and teach the same things she had been taught.
Some other Christians heard of Mary's work with the soup kitchen downtown. They knew she claimed to be a Christian. But they also knew about her bad religious background. They knew they couldn't support her, and whenever they got the chance they would find ways to discredit her and her religious background. It was obvious to them that they were not on the same team.
Can you see a parallel between my story and Matt 12:25 - 30 (NIV)?
Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
(Parallel passages in Mark 3:24 and Luke 11:17.)
If you see God at work, then the kingdom of God is present.
IF you need to figure out if someone is following Jesus or not. (Big IF here. In many cases I don't think we need to figure it out with certainty). Look first for the fruit of the Spirit. Don't just look for wrong beliefs. Look for evidence of the Spirit of God at work. And don't look for perfection, God usually picks imperfect people to work through.
If you think God's kingdom is divided... think again.
There is only one Church. You are either following Christ or you are following something else.
If you find yourself opposing God's work... that's a dangerous place to be.
Take another look at the warning about "blasphemy against the Spirit". In context it seems to be a warning for those who are opposing the Spirit of God working through others.