After a short diversion, (due to my concern over the deep political fracture in America), I want to pick up with ideas about receiving the kingdom. Just this week I had another friend say, “OK… so how do we actually do it?”
Just a quick review of the first two steps, and we’ll move on:
- Receive the Love of God, and stop trying to earn it. Nobody in the Gospel record ever had to earn the love of Jesus. He simply accepted people as they were. It’s when we finally accept the outrageous love of the Father without condition by faith that we’re born again into his life.
- Repent: which means not just turning from sin, but actually rethinking everything we thought we knew about God, his world, ourselves and the human race. No one can receive the kingdom while clinging to his own human reasoning, religious notions, and cherished opinions.
The next step of the journey seems to be following the King. Have you ever noticed how Jesus invites people to follow him, refers to those followers as “disciples,” and never once labels them “converts”? “Convert” is one of those terms we evangelicals would be hard-pressed to drop from our vocabulary. And yet its an idea the Son himself managed to splendidly avoid except for one time when he was taking the pharisees to task for traveling over land and sea to make a “convert.” Jesus was obviously more concerned about people actually following him as disciples than offering them a one-time religious experience.
To follow Jesus means to become a “red-letter” Christian, one who actually heeds his words, and follows him into the wide-open adventure of turning the other cheek, laying down our lives, giving away riches, feeding the poor, casting out demons and healing the sick. This is the life Jesus seemed to have in mind when he spoke about his kingdom.
Sadly, we evangelicals often make Christianity a personal affair, a transaction where we exchange “personal” faith for a “personal” experience that’s supposed to insure us a “personal” place in heaven while we too-often duck-out on the kingdom every chance along the way. I don’t know how God will do his accounting, but I worry that the safety we find in our “born-again conversion” might sometimes lead us away from the main point, which is the red-letter Kingdom of God.
7 thoughts on “Receiving the kingdom, part 3”
You go, Don! I think when we don’t understand the love of God, the “losing our life for His sake and the gospel” sounds so dreadful and frightening. But what so many of us have missed for a lot of our lives and some are still missing is that because the love of God is so “outrageous,” we will have the MOST fun, the MOST fulfillment, the DEEPEST ecstasies this side of heaven when we do just that–lose our lives, and then FIND THEM.
Romans 12:1 tells us to offer our bodies as a LIVING sacrifice. That means dying to OUR desires,goals and ambitions in order to be broken bread and poured out wine in the lives of others. WE don’t “convert” anyone. Rather, we are called to be vessels of and witnesses of God’s extravagant love. Sometimes that may even mean using words! If we dwell in His presence, obey His gentle promptings, and love others, He will bring them to Himself. It’s all about HIM!
BTW Have you read Campolo’s book- Red Letter Christian?
Hey Shannon! No I haven’t, but I’ll bet it challenging. Campolo is pretty good at getting the church out into the world.
Hey Don baby, I got a bone to pick. Actually two so sit down. In step one I agree Jesus unconditional acceptance was his trade mark. But to then say we need to unconditionally accept God’s love to be born again reverses the role and puts me in charge. Jesus the greatest unconditionally accepted to show us that the Father also unconditionally accepts. I think you pervert the meaning of that thought to take it where you took it. But that’s just me. BTW the reason Jesus (God) unconditionally accepts people is because he knows those who have seen they have been accepted in the beloved then begin to act like the one that accepted them. That explains a lot of human behavior, like gangs and clicks all dressing alike and acting alike. Well Point two: what dictionary did you look at to get repent means to turn from sin?
Carlos! So glad to hear from you again! As always you make me think and rethink. You do, after all, share a good chunk of the responsibility for getting me started on this journey of recovery. So when you speak, I take note.
I see your point, and especially like your application to gangs. I reckon I based my first observation on John 1:12. “But as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become the children of God.” Have I misread this? It sounds like sonship is dependent on receiving. How could I read this differently?
You caught me red-handed on the second point. I’m guilty as charged of being afraid to challenge the evangelical party-line on “repentance.” My Bible even goes so far as translating Matt. 4:17 “Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of heaven is near.” I know that’s dead wrong, but I was afraid to mess with that hornet’s nest. Pray for me.
Don, thanks for your messages on the Kingdom. You are right on to say that it all begins with getting a deep revelation of the fact that “I am His beloved” and he is wild about me. It’s not a one-time revelation, but a deepening one, and I can’t seem to get enough of it. I pray for more. It is out of this revelation of His love and who we are in Him that we can truly repent and truly walk in His footsteps. Otherwise our feeble attempts at righteousness become dead works. I can’t say that I have a handle on this fully; I can only say I’m on the journey, and have much to learn.