Upside-Down Living – Gospel in Life

Upside-Down Living

Tim Keller |  May 4, 2003

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  • Heaven and Hell
  • Identity
Luke 16:19-31
RS 158-2


Many of you have heard the term “kingdom of God,” but can you put in a nutshell what it is? Dallas Willard, a philosopher at the University of Southern California, says a kingdom is the “range of your effective will.” If somebody gets into your bag and takes something out, you’ll be outraged. Why? There has been an intrusion on your territory — or your kingdom. There has been a violation of the range of your effective will.

What does it mean, then, to put yourself within the range of God’s effective will? It means that you get a lasting identity that goes on for eternity, and it is marked by astounding liberality. Let’s look more closely at how we can get that kind of identity.

Luke 16:19–31

When we talk about God’s kingdom, we’re talking about a space where God’s will is always done. Imagine it like your personal room, where you make all the rules. To live in God’s kingdom means to follow His rules. This includes finding your true self, being generous, and learning how to get there.

1. Finding your true self

Jesus tells a story about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. The rich man thinks he’s important because he’s rich, but when he dies, nobody remembers him. Lazarus, though, was a good man and people remembered him. This teaches us that it’s better to have a good character than to have money. So, we should think about who we really are and try to be good people.

2. Your true self lasts forever

When you live a good life, you live forever in God’s kingdom. Some people think that hell is a scary place where bad people are punished. But Jesus’ story shows that hell is more about being separated from God, which happens when you choose to be a bad person. So, how we live now matters for eternity.

3. Your true self is generous

Jesus teaches that being a good person means helping others, especially those who are less fortunate. If you only care about yourself, you’re missing the point of God’s love. True compassion means caring for everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from. Not doing this shows a lack of understanding of God’s grace.

4. How do we become our true selves?

We become our true selves by following Jesus’ teachings and experiencing his love. This means we don’t need to impress others, but rather understand how precious we are because Jesus suffered for us. Believing in his resurrection and understanding the concept of hell helps us grasp how much God loves us. We should pray for this understanding and transformation.



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