Rob, Kyle, and myself have been extremely busy, we’ve been a little slow in the post department. So until we can get some newer ones written I figured I’d put up a post I wrote a year ago on my notes in facebook. I was just re-reading it for the first time since last year and wow I never new it was possible to encourage yourself. Anyway check it out
I’ve been thinking a lot about the kingdom of God, about what is means here in America, here in New Jersey. What does it mean to establish the kingdom of God? This is a question that I have been attempting to answer (in my human ignorance), and I don’t think I can answer it in words, but I do think I can live it out. (more of that in a second)
That being said I can think of one thing that i see the Lord doing, I see the Lord calling out the true worshippers and I see Him calling them to a new level of relationship with Him. The Lord is doing things in our lives, shaking us to our core. Asking us questions like “will you REALLY follow me”, will you REALLY lay this down, will you really pick this up. These are questions that have a common theme. I believe that Christ is challenging us re-evaluate our relationship with Him. I can speak from personal experience that the Lord is rocking me big time with this. He has been challenging me to read His word daily, and to understand it. I have been challenged to spend one a hour a day with Him and listening to His voice in regards to what I’m supposed to do with that hour. It has been challenging but rewarding.
I’ve been realizing more and more just exactly how much my relationship with the Lord must not only be my foundation, it must be my entire house. Without Christ being my absolute everything, I have no purpose to my life. When Christ is not only the rudder to the ship, but my ship I realize that even in the choppiest of waves I am safe. This is essential, it is ESSENTIAL that we armor up as the body of Christ, the enemy is on the prowl, continous distractions, causing strife, gossip among the church attempting to tarnish it’s image (and in many ways succeeded). Family there is no more time for games, Christ demands our life and the question is are we going to submit to Him?
Where am I going with this you ask? Because before we talk about establishing the kingdom we need to be completely confident in our relationship with Christ, this is not to say that we are perfect, God equips the called He does not called the equipped (because none of us are). Until we realize his amazing grace on our lives, and until we realize our complete depravity we cannot move on and allow God to mold us in to who we were orginally created to be.
I digress let’s move on to the kingdom. People estimate that there are about 300,000 Christian churches in the U.S (not including Catholic). If the population of the U.S is about 300 million people, that equates to roughly about 1,000 people per church, In a very real way the church has effectively communicated the gospel, the majority of Americans claim Christianity as their religious association (75%), this is quite an amazing feat. However that’s where the positive ends, staticians estimate that out of those 75% only 4% hold a Biblical worldview. What is that worldview? It’s the essentials! (The trinity, satan being real, the Bible being perfect and absolute truth). This is a huge miss, because even though people know about Jesus, they still haven’t met Jesus, even though they know that christians are opposed to abortion, premarital sex, drug use, they still don’t understand WHY we are opposed to those things. This is huge! What good is a list of things that are “sin” if there is no savior who points out a better way to live? There is a new generation rising up (us!, twenty somethings) who are determing to explain to the world that there is a better way to live then the way they are living. We are people who want to introduce people to a living God who doesn’t demand sunday morning church attending, but demands a lifestyle change, a lifestyle that is so free, so full of life, so full of people who support you, and a lifestyle of grace and redemption. The kingdom is coming, and God has entrusted us broken people to establish it.
It is essential that we view our faith not as what church we go to, but we realize that we are doing the same work for the same God. It’s not about one church, it’s about a kingdom menality, when I visit a church community, or when I have dinner with a christian I’ve never met I am serving the same exact God they are. Could you imagine if the American church put aside petty differences (I’m not talking about core doctrines) and united and reached their community’s together? Could you imagine a baptist church and a pentecostal church working TOGETHER to paint the local firehoue? Or to feed and clothe and love the poor? If we believe in the same God who redeemed us then we need to start acting like it.
The idea of the kingdom goes beyond just the walls of what we call a church (which using the word church the way we use it is actually wrong, the Bible never refers to church as a building), the kingdiom goes way beyond Sunday morning, weds night, or youth group. It goes beyond what we are used to calling “church” in American society. The kingdom is established in relationships and over all lifestyle choices. Allow me to elaborate, first relationships.
Let’s get one thing clear, America does not want another product, they are not interested in a salespitch when it comes Jesus, and quite frankly I think they’re tired of hearing about Jesus. What America wants to see is an active Jesus, one who puts their money with their mouth is, one who preaches abstinence then actually practices it. People aren’t looking for robots, they are looking for humans who understand the struggles of the human condition and who can offer a way out. It’s a delicate balance,. We don’t want to preach the idea of christians are perfect and have everything together at all times because well, none of us are perfect. In the same breath we don’t want to preach the opposite idea either, that we can live however we want to live. I think the key is when we are genuine about who we are, this is best accomplished through a personal authentic friendship, one that still loves the person regardless if they reject the Gospel, I have a friend like that, I love him to death regardless of his rejection of the Gospel because I have no control over what he chooses to believe, and I trust God to work on his heart (what a relief).
The second is lifestyle. This is so absolutely key to our faith, not only because Jesus demands it, but because in a world of talk, talk and more talk, action cements the beliefs that we say we believe. Don’t fool yourself however, a lifestyle of Christ will only come out of a genuine love for Christ and a realization of his amazing love for us. After that, lifestyle will pour out of us because we wont’ be able to live any other way.
Just the other day me and some friends got to together at my house, cooked a full meal, brought out my moms best dishes and celebrated communion, we had the bread, ate a full meal then drank the juice (or soda in this case), the whole conversation was centered on things about God and the topics spanned from personal life, to the end times to everything in between. This is the lifestyle I’m talking about. Why not bring church to your home? I mean the church is made up of people anyway. So live as the church throughout the week. Often people will say “I’m too busy to do things like what you just described” but that’s the beauty of a lifestyle. The lifestyle is how you live, it’s where you live, the kingdom walks where you walk. YOU bring the kingdom WHEREVER you go! This includes work, this includes when you go out to eat, when you go to the gym. God has entrusted us with bringing the kingdom to the world and we bring it where we walk.
I believe however that the only way to effectively bring the kingdom to where you are is to have a group of likeminded of people that can support you and that you can support. Americans are realizing that things don’t satisfy, that there is more to life then a pension, big house, and lots of money. All over the place we are realizing that the promise of the next gadget to fix our life doesn’t actually fix anything and instead creates more problems. Living independently isn’t always best, and really what good is all of your stuff if you’ve sacrificed marriages, and your children to get it?
Find people who want in on this amazing task, initiate, start inviting people over all the time for coffee, or to do whatever it is you want to do. It doesn’t matter what it is, let your relationship s naturally mature and enjoy being the community, the church that Christ has called us to be. One that goes WAY beyond four walls on a sunday, one that goes way beyond the normal idea of a nice quite Christian American life. The two greatest commands we have from our Father is to love Him with everything, and love people. 1 Corinthians 13.
Any typos/grammatical errors are not my fault
– Tim Whitaker