The Upside-Down Kingdom

Open Your Bible

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

My daughter, Karis, and I strolled the aisles of Lowe’s, deciding which fruit we wanted to plant in a new potted garden. What might taste delicious in the middle of summer? I chose a thornless blackberry bush, and my kindergartner joyfully grabbed a strawberry seedling. We brought home a bag of potting soil and two plastic pots made to look like cast iron, and Karis softly covered the roots with her mini-me hand shovel. 

For the next several months, she doted every day with her cup of water to ensure the soil stayed within the perfect moisture level. And then sure enough, one summer afternoon, she ran into the house with a mouth full of red sweetness and a shout of glee, “We did it, mom! We did it! I just ate a strawberry!” I hugged her—and then it hit me. The seeds buried in the soil had to break open and die to bear fruit. It’s strange. To live its purpose, a seed needs to become a buried sacrifice.

But this is the way of the kingdom, is it not? The seeds echo biblical truth like a tiny parable. To live, we die. To walk the way of the kingdom, we serve. After all, Jesus—the author and perfecter of our faith—“did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). 

Maybe the modern-day parable of the strawberry seed is right after all. The sweetest fruit comes from sacrifice—an upside-down image for an upside-down kingdom. 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, the humble, and those who mourn. Blessed are the merciful, the peacemakers, the persecuted—because the kingdom of heaven will be theirs. They will inherit the earth—with all the wild strawberry and blackberry bushes (Matthew 5:3–10).

Recently, I saw a story of the upside-down kingdom lived out in a modern way in an animated Torchlighters film about Jim Elliot. He and a group of men gave their lives in service for the kingdom of God by working to reach a tribe that had never heard the gospel. Unfortunately, their work cost them their lives as the Ecuadorian tribe felt threatened by their presence and killed them. 

Later, however, the tribe came to the saving knowledge of the gospel through the continued work of the women on their mission team. Jim Elliot is known to have said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” 

May we live with this same humility— like Christ, who being God, emptied Himself to the point of death so we might live (Philippians 2:5–8). May the seed of our lives serve others—at school, at home, or during the long zoom meeting—bearing much fruit, more valuable than an orchard full of strawberries.

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38 thoughts on "The Upside-Down Kingdom"

  1. Jessica Thomas says:

    Let me humble enough to serve just as Jesus did.

    I also pray for my middle child Lord. She is constantly struggling with her confidence and doubts herself. School swimming lessons are on her mind and I pray that you help her see her worth and realise that she can move mountains. You have told me you have amazing things planned for this child and I thank you that I have the opportunity to serve each of my children. Let you lead their lives and be an ever present source of light for them today and in the days to come.

  2. Ada McCloud says:

    So many ways to serve yet so many choose to not. Show me today where to serve

  3. Andrea Ingersoll says:

    Good morning. What a good lesson today. Each day I pray that God will help me to reflect Christ to those around me and that they see the fruit of the spirit in my life.
    I praise God for all his mercy and am amazed that Christ chose to die for ME.
    I love the story of the strawberry and will use it to explain Christ’s sacrifice to my grand children.
    I pray everyone here has a great day and walks in Gods wisdom.

  4. Crystal Weaver says:

    Ok I didn’t receive one either! Thanks for clarifying, I was afraid I had missed something!

  5. Rachel says:

    Good morning! Praying in particular this am for those of you in hard and hurtful marriages. A couple other resources that might be helpful are “What Did You Expect” by Paul Tripp and “Peacemaking For Families – A Biblical Guide to Managing Conflict in Your Home” by Ken Sande and Tom Raabe. God is for you and for your marriage, so come to Him with boldness and confidence as you pray, knowing that all His promises are YES AND AMEN!