Day 16

The Upside-Down Kingdom

from the reading plan

Matthew 5:1-20, Matthew 5:33-48, Matthew 20:26-28, Philippians 2:3-8, Psalm 15:1-5

Some things just wouldn’t work if they were upside down. Bicycles. Toilets. Sandcastles. Houses. The list goes on and on. We love order, and without it civilization would fall apart…literally.

When we hear that something is “backwards” or that things have “gone upside down,” we know what’s being talked about is not as it should be—it’s broken, confused, and chaotic. So when we say the kingdom is upside down, it carries a connotation that paints a clear picture… Or does it? What if we looked at it from a different perspective? Sometimes something upside down can simply be turned over to look right again. 

In Matthew 20:28, Jesus says, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This statement reveals the fundamental truth of the upside-down kingdom of God, where the way of the world is turned on its head, and God’s way is “right.”

For people of the time (and still today), this doesn’t track. In the world, power is often equated with prestige, wealth, and control. People strive to attain these things, believing they will bring happiness and fulfillment. But Jesus teaches us that true power and greatness come from serving others and laying down our own lives for the sake of others. The greatest among us are those who serve.

This is the upside-down kingdom of God. It is a kingdom where the “last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). A kingdom where it is the humble who inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5) and the rich who are sent away empty (Luke 1:53). A kingdom where the least of these are the most valued, and the most humble are the most powerful.

When you or I read Scripture, we’re faced with a choice: to let it move us to action, or do nothing. I find myself compelled to consider what this means for my life, and I invite you to do the same. As people who love the Lord, we have a living hope. That gratitude leads me to questions like, “Am I standing out in a world where the things of God aren’t valued?”

As believers in Christ, we have the privilege of living in this upside-down kingdom. I hope I never lose sight of it. We have the power of the Spirit within us, enabling us to love as Jesus loved and to serve as Jesus served. We have been made alive in Christ, and our lives are no longer ours. We have a new purpose and a new way of living.

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