For the first Sunday of the year, we met virtually as a church to watch the Selah service online. It was an incredible way to reflect on 2016, and look toward 2017 with fresh perspective and to ask God what he has in mind for the coming 12 months. This week, we were back to meet in a physical space and to hear about Kingdom ambition. Jim Larson – a deeply devoted disciple of Jesus and member of our church – blessed us with his Spirit-filled wisdom in this week’s sermon.
Firstly, let’s acknowledge that ambition of the Kingdom and worldly varieties are vastly different. Kingdom ambition is rooted in the fact that we have a highly ambitious God (exemplified by His creation of at least 100 billion galaxies in the universe).
Psalm 19:1 states, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands.” As beings of His creation, we were made in his image, and piece of that is His ambition living within each of us. Not only were we created to look like him, but he invites us to co-labor with Him; such an invitation for us prompts ambitious excitement!
Matthew 25:14-30: “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
God is pleased with those ambitious for His Kingdom; He voices it so clearly. Using this passage from Matthew, we want to be like the first two servants, and unlike the third.
In 4 categories, we can acknowledge and identify our Kingdom ambition (Kingdom-focus x ambition):
- Low Kingdom-focus x low ambition: similar to a rudder-less ship. It’s near impossible to move a ship that is docked.
- Low Kingdom-focus x high ambition: this is what culture tells us is right, fulfilling, and satisfying.
- According to the world, high ambition has nothing to do with loving God or loving your neighbor.
- We can become harmful toward others when we have too much worldly ambition; we might become greedy, selfless, envious, or find it easier to step on others in order to climb the social or financial ladder.
- This category might apply to people who believe in Jesus but who don’t allow Him to permeate their lives.
- If this is you, get in community and walk with Jesus together. It’s so much more encouraging to walk with others, and this is the intention of God.
- Or, this category might apply to people who have found that they have drifted away from God over time.
- If this is you, rededicate your life to Him. Ask Him to speak to you, and ask Him for help. He wants you near to Him and wants to again be part of your life!
- High Kingdom-focus x low ambition: faith that is not action-oriented.
- We are held accountable to the things that we do in our time on Earth. Make it count!
- Cultural individualism perpetuates this category.
- If you find yourself in this place, start by asking God, “who can I bless today/this week and how can I bless them?”
- Decide, commit, and execute.
- God will show up and change your heart in your faithful first step.
- Some of us in this category are not individualistic, but we feel unworthy of helping others. This isn’t true! Each of our identities is critical to advancing the Kingdom of God.
- Ask, “What are the callings of my life?”
- Dream with God.
- Listen to the myriad of ways in which he speaks (because, though it might occur this way, it doesn’t always happen through a burning bush).
- Ask, “What are the callings of my life?”
- High Kingdom-focus x high-ambition: we get to this place by:
- Believing that God is who He says He is.
- Believing that we are who He says we are.
- Devote and direct your ambition toward loving God and loving others.
- Identify and take the next step in faith.
No matter where you find yourself (and not everyone fits into one category alone – we all have different Kingdom ambition according to different parts of our lives), God wants us to live abundantly and ambitiously. Dream with Him, trust that He will speak, and know that He will be with you wherever you go.