The Brotherhood of Man

The second aspect of this philosophy or religion was summed up in the statement love your neighbor as yourself, and this was tied into the first idea of the Fatherhood of God. This he also based on a fact: we are all sons of God and therefore we are all brothers and sisters, members of a very large extended family.

Though Christianity would see humanity as either Christians or non-Christians, God sees us all as His children. The only distinction God makes with his children is between those who desire to do his will and those who do not.

As he was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

The woman glorified his mother because Mary was his immediate family member and therefore must have found favor with God because of her close family bond to the Master. However, he corrected her, saying that God was no respecter of persons and did not play favorites with family members – rather those who did God’s will were blessed.

In the same way, we can see that just because someone is born into a religious family or is the son of a pastor or belongs to an amazing church does not mean they are given any special status in the Kingdom of Heaven. God loves us all equally because God is no respecter of persons.

The love that we feel from God and the love that we express to God results in a greater love for our fellow man. Knowing that we are all brothers regardless of spiritual status changes everything for the believer. We can only look upon our neighbor with the same compassion and depth of understanding that we feel from our shared Father.

Sovereignty, Sonship and the Supreme Desire

The Kingdom of Heaven has three main components which are Sovereignty, Sonship and the Supreme desire to do the Father’s will.

  • Sovereignty – God is King and sovereign Lord over all. He reigns not only over the material physical worlds of the universe he created but also over the spiritual world which transcends the material plane of time and space.

  • Sonship – membership in the Kingdom of Heaven means the recognition that you are a Son of God, made by Him, your Father who lives in Heaven. God is really your Father, it is not just a metaphor that Joshua is referring to – our biological parents are co-creators with God, they participate in the creation of children, though in reality we are children of creation. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

  • Supreme desire to do the will of the Father. To be a member of a religious organization or church is not necessarily to be a child of God. To be a true faith-son of God one must have the will of God as their highest desire. When the will of God is an obligation or duty, when it is your law or rule, then you are not really a true son. When the will of God becomes your will, then you are a true faith-son of the Living God.

The Prince of Peace based his gospel, his religion on a fact: that God is our Father and we really are his sons. Everyone is a son of God: to love our neighbor as ourselves was not a new concept to the Jews. What was new was that Joshua expanded the idea of a neighbor to include all nations, races, tribes, sexes and religions. The Jews only believed that their neighbor was another Jew. The gentiles or heathens were not their neighbors nor were they members of the elite chosen people.

Are not all men and women our brothers and sisters? Are we not all created by God?

The Hebrews had a racial God. The goyim – which is variously translated as nations, people, gentiles or heathen – figuratively means a herd of animals or swarm of locusts, disclosing their low opinion of other peoples.

The fact that Israel was ruled by the heathen Romans was a blow to their national pride which the Deliverer was supposed to relieve. The radical message that there is neither Jew nor Gentile in the Kingdom of Heaven was a slap in the face to many of the intensely nationalistic Israelites.

The Evolving Soul

The spiritual mind which comes with the ever-increasing love of God is the combined conscious reality of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, prayers and acts of worship to God. Mind is more than consciousness however. It is the expression of the God-made personality combined with the mortal-lived experience of your existence.

Personality is the stamp of God. There are no two people created alike. God uses no molds though all are patterned after the image of the Father. Personality does not change. It is the one constant thing in our individual lives other than the constant changeless God. Our uniqueness is a reminder that God made us and values us as individual people.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

The indwelling Spirit is daily bringing us closer and closer to ultimate union with him. When our will is completely entwined with his, when we have forever made the decision to irrevocably follow God, we are one with the Father as Joshua was one with God. The union of our mind with the Spirit of God is the soul.

This soul is evolving, growing, emerging; daily approaching the divinity of God.  Upon material death, the soul escapes the bonds of the flesh and leaves behind the mortal coil.

There are celestial bodies and there are earthly bodies. We may be given new bodies, yet our soul remains intact as it was on earth. There is no magic or miraculous event which transforms us into perfected sons of God. It is something we must attain, by faith, step by step, by following the leading of the Spirit who speaks to our minds and pulls us towards our paradise destination.

The Spiritual Mind

The spiritual mind is set on the things of the next life, on the living out of faith and in preparation for the eternal home which is to come. The Son of Man did not teach us to forsake all, other than those chosen apostles who were required to give up everything for their chosen mission to bear the good news after Joshua was gone from this earth. He taught us by his life that the eternal pursuit was the most important thing on earth: seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness and all things will be added unto you.

He taught us not to worry about the basic necessities of life such as food and clothing and to seek the kingdom.  If we would follow after him in sincere service and devotion to our fellow man, if we would make the supreme desire to do his will the centerpiece of our life, then he would take care of our basic needs in life.

And the resulting fruit of the spirit of such a life of devotion would fill us with peace and the inner satisfaction of a life fulfilled in serving others.

We have been instructed to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, to move into the higher realm of relationship with the Father in the supreme desire to do his will. We cannot fake righteousness or act holy in the hopes we would be holy. Holiness is gained by a life dedicated to doing of the Father’s will.

Inner Man

The real goal of our salvation is to turn us from material-minded animals into spiritually-minded eternal creatures. With the patient, gentle and fatherly love of the spirit which indwells you, day by day, step by step you are being made into a spiritual being. Without the aid and presence of the Spirit we are only clever animals.

So God can clearly show them that they are like animals.

 For the fate of humans and the fate of animals are the same:

As one dies, so dies the other; both have the same breath.

There is no advantage for humans over animals,

for both are fleeting.

 Both go to the same place,

both come from the dust,

and to dust both return.

The most amazing thing of all creation is that God has designed this plan for the mortal man to ascend from a lowly animal to an eternal, spiritual creature who can join the ranks of the angels and become as they are. We can always be grateful for the opportunity we are give to rise from the self-seeking creature of hunger and lust to the heights of perfection and eternal destiny.

For many believers, of which I am one, the change was quite dramatic from the day of salvation. Some people slowly enter into salvation and imperceptibly become convinced of the reality of God and the path of eternal destination which awaits them. For others, the day of salvation is dramatic and the immediate change in the behavior is radical. This change is also dependent upon the depth of the surrender to the will of God.

The transformation of the inner man is often an intense and protracted struggle. There is no conflict in the mind of either the completely material minded person or for the completely spiritually minded person. The believer who is caught up in the middle is often in a prolonged battle.

Mortal Life

All of creation is not designed to be a cruel joke or a divine punishment because we are bad. The short, uphill climb of our mortal existence is designed to make us grow. The difficulties of our life in the flesh provide the best opportunity to make stronger, healthier spiritual beings out of us. Adversity breeds character.

   I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

   I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

The pruning which the Father performs in our lives is the day to day ministry in our minds. We are confronted with situations, with people and jobs and family and friends which force us to make decisions. We must analyze and prayerfully consider each new situation and find the best plan for the situation.

The best plan is the right plan.

If we bring our challenges to God and are open and willing to follow the counsel given, then we will grow. The only real struggle in the believer’s mind is whether to follow the will of God or not. If we follow God, then there is the peace which surpasses all understanding.

God is lavish with time and extravagant in his efforts with the individual. Moses spent 40 years in Midian before he began his life’s work. Perhaps it took that long to get the stubbornness out of Moses’ heart. After growing up in the palace, maybe he needed a lot of humbling to prepare him for his later ministry. We are told he became the father of two sons. The maturity which was needed to lead the Israelites was no doubt influenced by the struggle and challenge of providing and caring for a family.

Moses truly was the servant of all and the greatest of his people. The fruit which Joshua spoke of is the social service to our brothers and sisters.  As we grow and become more Godlike, we naturally desire and work for the benefit of others.  God is naturally helpful. It’s just the way he is. He enjoys doing good to us.

Godly Person

The desire to be more like God comes with the recognition of our mortality and imperfection. The more we are aware of our own shortcomings, weaknesses and incompleteness, the more we desire to be holy and pure like God. Godly sorrow brings about repentance. Repentance leads to holiness. To be righteous does not mean not doing the wrong things, it means doing the right things. It means doing good. The Son of Man said those who thirst after righteousness will be filled. This means righteousness is attainable. We can do it.

Be holy as I am holy. This seemingly impossible command is the encouraging word of God to center our whole being on the pursuit of godliness and holiness. Without holiness no man may see the Lord. This doesn’t mean we must first be perfect in order to be saved or to find favor with God. God is concerned with our attempt; that our desire is to be like him.

People judge by the outward appearance, God judges by our motives. Every man in his heart thinks he is right, but God searches our hearts.

The Godly person’s whole purpose, their reason for being is to follow the leading of the indwelling spirit, to be more God-knowing and God-like. It doesn’t mean we cease to struggle or cease to be human and suddenly we are perfect. It means we are on the road to perfection, on the path which is laid before us.

Self-Control and Self-Respect

self-controlAt the heart of the Son of Man’s teaching is self-control and self-respect. Joshua taught this by his personal life. He never did anything which would lower his opinion of himself. Though he was never selfish, he did not lower himself to the level of his enemies. When struck he did not strike back. When insulted he did return insult. When falsely accused he did not respond with futile arguments.

He was poised and articulate. He did not rule others by lording it over them: he commanded respect by the sincere love he had of humans and the lengths he was willing to go to show them the better way of life. He was truly the King of Kings, though he established a kingdom with no castle or lands or soldiers or money.

Though he lived a nomadic, austere and rustic life during the time of his ministry, he behaved like a king in all his word and deed. He placed very high value on the person, often going out of his way to interact with the individual. He really had faith in people and gave them confidence by the sheer strength of his positive, friendly, dynamic personality.

Self-Forgetfulness

By becoming the servant of all we become great in the Kingdom of Heaven. Forgetting about our own desires, wants, needs, dreams, longings is the sure road to fulfillment and long-term satisfaction in this life and in the next.

The Hebrews taught self-denial, the religion of prayer and fasting. However, thou-shall-not’s really have no power to either permanently deliver you from sin and evil or to make you into a son of God. The freedom which Joshua showed us was the freedom to follow the spirit wherever he leads you.

Joshua was never selfish, he was completely preoccupied with doing his Father’s will in the service to mankind. Even in his final moments on the cross he reached out to others, opening the door to salvation for the thief who was crucified next to him. He showed mercy even to those who had murdered him: Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.

Seeking one’s own salvation above all else is actually selfishness. If we are only preoccupied with our own righteousness, then are we not self-righteous? The true believer takes salvation for granted. He or she is convinced of eternal life: they do not doubt or ponder where they are going after death.

The joy of salvation and the sense of gratitude which accompanies entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven acts as a contagious drawing force in the life of such a person. The desire to share and teach others what you have learned is the mark of the depth of your surrender to God. The more that you give up for God and the more you forget yourself, the more useful you are in the Kingdom.

Followers

There is a distinction between the different groups of people who surrounded the son of the carpenter. They were not all a homogenous bunch with different titles. They had distinct roles and distinct training.

The core group of apostles was hand-picked by the Master. They were Andrew, his brother Simon Peter, James and John Zebedee, Nathaniel and Phillip, Matthew the tax collector, Simon the Zealot, Judas and James Alpheus, Thomas and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

These men were not the sons of noblemen or wealthy politicians. They were not the upper class academics or powerful sons of the priest-class. They were ordinary working-class men. These men were required to give up everything to follow in the service to the Kingdom of Heaven.

The modern church divides the workers into categories of pastors, deacons, worship leaders and an assorted staff of ushers, administrators, cell group leaders, prayer group leaders, Sunday school teachers, musicians, multi-media support, program leaders and security and maintenance.

The main three groups of Joshua’ ministry consisted of ambassadors, students and recruiters – that is apostles, disciples and evangelists. Judas was treasurer and Peter acted as spokesman for the group and also took the role as the main preacher.

The apostles were ambassadors of the kingdom and as such were held to a higher standard of behavior. A soft word turns aside wrath is truly the watch word of an ambassador. The Greek word used in the New Testament is apostolos which means one who is sent out. An ambassador is someone trained in diplomacy, tact and the social skills necessary to interact with people of diverse cultures, nations and ethnicities.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all thatI have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

When Joshua gave the apostles these instructions you will notice that he commanded them to make disciples of all nations; teaching them to observe all that he had commanded. He did not tell them to convert people to Christianity or make them members of a church. He exhorted them to make students and teach them.

In the Book of Mark, we find the Master exhorting his apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation which begs the question what gospel? The gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven which Joshua had been elaborating on for over three years was the basis of the teaching which the apostles were required to impart to their new-found students.

An ambassador for a nation must be broad-minded and highly educated. In our increasingly complex world an ambassador must have a good working knowledge of politics, economics, trade, culture and social customs. It is very difficult to succeed in evangelism unless you have a good understanding of the  culture  you are witnessing to or if you are tactless and unsympathetic to their questions and concerns.

The apostle Paul was a Roman and a Jew so he not only spoke Hebrew and Latin but he also knew Greek and was well-educated and familiar with the Greek philosophies of the time.

So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.  A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him.

Joshua was also quite familiar with the languages and customs of the day – he was no doubt conversant in Hebrew, Aramaic and also Greek as that was the common language of scholarship at that time. Joshua was extremely skillful in deflecting and defusing confrontations due to his sagacious and diplomatic choice of words.

Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.

                     -Sir Isaac Newton