Greatest and Least in the Kingdom of Heaven

Matt. 5:13-20

     Are there going to be levels of greatness in Paradise? If there are, it wouldn’t be much different than what we have on earth. It would be a glorified caste system, some people imagining they are better than others. Where do you think you’ll end up? The answer is this: the kingdom of heaven is not Paradise. After all, how can the kingdom of heaven be like a mustard seed, or a woman working yeast into a huge batch of dough? I explained it in my low-cost ebook…which by the way, I’ve given a new cover.

     According to Matthew, you’ll be “greatest” in the kingdom if you are like salt, flavoring and bringing out the best in everything and everyone you touch. How are you influencing your friends and neighbors and your workplace? The purpose of salt is to make everything it comes into contact with better. Salt also preserves the goodness of things by not letting them fall into decay. You and I, as salt, are supposed to bring out the best of every person or situation in which we are placed. If you don’t improve the environment you’re put into, but instead (lose your saltiness and) join in with others in criticizing and demeaning everything that doesn’t meet their fancy, you’ve lost your ability to make anything better.

     If you don’t have any ability or desire to make a situation or a person better, Jesus said, “What good are you?” Complaining rarely makes things better. Positivity, hope, and action is better. Salt makes things better. Do your job. Be salt in the world. And be great in the kingdom of heaven.

     You’ll also be great in the kingdom if you are light. Light overcomes darkness. Adding to the darkness of ignorance and negativity does nothing. What is being light like? When you are light, you are performing good works. When people who live in the dark are treated in unexpected ways (unexpected to them – they expect you to resist them, that’s why they are so defensive). Surprise them. Do something nice for them.

     According to Matthew, Jesus said the Law and the Prophets can be summed up this way: treat others the way you would want to be treated. Jesus came to show people how to do that. He didn’t hide in a hole and avoid expressing his opposition to wrong teachings or actions that bring harm to others. He simply held a mirror up to religious people who thought they were righteous because of their adherence to written rules even when they brought harm to others.

     How many jots and tittles do you see in Jesus’s law? Treat others the way you would want to be treated. What is righteousness? Well, it’s not about going to church, paying your offering dues, or giving up chocolate during Lent. Righteousness is doing what is good and right for the wellbeing of your neighbor.

     If you do that, you will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. By the way, if you change the wording of that to reflect its meaning, it sounds like this—“you will be called great in the development of harmony.” That harmony might refer to the growing peace and contentment within yourself, or it could also reflect the spreading of peace and harmony into the environment in which you are being salt or light.

     Pharisees who care more for words and rules in a Book (a wonderfully profound Book that it is) than they care for the people for whom the Book was written to serve, have missed the whole point of the Law and the Prophets—“treat others the way you would want to be treated.” They are always upset inside because others aren’t doing what they demand of them and they are chasing people out of religion by their lack of light and flavoring abilities. Harmony runs from them.

     Are you salt in the world? Start making everything you touch better. Let your light shine so all will see your good works, and give glory to your Father in heaven. Do what’s right because your heart says it’s right, not because a preacher, a bishop, or a pope says it’s right. Do what is right and good for all people. That’s when you will find peace and harmony – first within yourself, and then your peace can flow out of you to others to bring greater harmony into the world.

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