Category Archives: Discipleship

The idea that changes everything

One of the great miracles of the early church is the story of how this little fellowship of fishermen, household slaves and tax collectors evolved into a force that supplanted the pagan culture of the world’s greatest empire.   “We have filled all you have”, said the great Tertullian in the third century,  “your cities, islands, forts, towns, assembly halls, military camps, town councils, the palace, the senate, and the forum.  We have left you nothing but the temples.”   Armed with grace and truth, this was a church that out-loved, out-thought, and out-died their Roman neighbors.  It was a church with a vision for a better world, and a blueprint for a new kind of Kingdom.

Perhaps we could learn something from them.   The modern western church by contrast has largely exchanged grace for judgement, martyrdom for materialism, and truth for education.  When the Son stepped into His role as Messiah he introduced something new into the mix of life passed down through the Jewish scriptures.  To the ancient injunction of Deuteronomy 6:4, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength”, he added “and with all of your mind“.  (Mark 12:30)   Here, I believe, is one of the places where the contemporary church parts company with early believers: we have abandoned the Christian mind, leaving the heavy lifting of how we ought to live to the academics and even, (God forbid), to the government.

One of the towering Truths of the kingdom is that the King himself IS Truth.  The God who created all things, and holds all things together, (Colossians 1:15-17), is the same God who shares His mind with his people.  (1 Corinthians 2:16).  The early church knew that they carried within them the One “in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”.  This was the well of wisdom, the engine of innovation, and the fountainhead of reformation in the early centuries of the Christian church.   Kingdom disciples honor this gift and look to the Lord for fresh insight, ideas and inspiration.

On a personal note, I’ve just finished teaching a delightful group of musician/disciples here in YWAM Denver.   We had many moments of laughter and tears as God unfolded the beauty of His kingdom as the hope for our broken world.  I live for these moments and find myself feeling profoundly grateful that God allows me to do what I love.

How to seek God’s kingdom

One young friend, a bright young university student, just asked me an honest and searching question: “What kind of things constitute seeking the Kingdom?” I’m no authority with these types of questions.  I still feel like a kingdom rookie searching the field for some seasoned player who can show me the ropes.  But I love the process, and so I asked the Holy Spirit for insight to respond.

I think it all begins with loving God and loving others (Luke 10:27).  But even before a journey can begin it needs a firm starting place, and the only place solid enough to begin the kingdom journey is a deep revelation of the profound and unwavering love God has for me.  Until my eyes are opened and my heart is bathed in the reality of God’s staggering love and affection towards me I’ll never be able to truly love others as I ought.   Sadly, many of us are clueless about God’s affection and we spend our lives trying to get into a room we’re already in rather than striking out on the adventure.  (If we really understood the love of God it would show up clearly in our attitudes towards liberals, gays, church visitors, homeless people and minorities!)

So we begin by drinking deeply of the love of God.  You’ll need to stop squirming.  Stop tracking your performance.  Stop trying to earn God’s love (there’s no need), or to prove how much you deserve God’s love, (you don’t), and just accept the fact that Father God is crazy with love for you beyond all reason or understanding.  There’s absolutely nothing you can do including “seeking the Kingdom,” that will make him love you any more or any less than he already does.  The truth is, God COULDN’T love you any more, and he REFUSES to love you any less than he does at this moment.   When a person’s soul is baptized in the love of the King his born-again eyes will be opened for the first time to the splendor of the kingdom.

And from there it will be quite natural to burn with love for God and others.  You’ll discover an inner motivation to pray for the kingdom, (Matt. 6:10); to preach the kingdom, (Luke 10:9; and to enlarge the kingdom through acts of mercy, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and bringing justice and light into the darkness around us.  (Matt. 25:31-40).

But we must never lose sight of the fact that the LOVE of God is forever the engine of all activity.  God’s kingdom is never advanced by drudgery nor the compulsion of dry religious obligation.  The kingdom comes with delight.   When we realize the love of the King we will gladly give ourselves to the enlargement of his kingdom.

PS:  I’m in Constanza, Romania with a class of twelve students from Moldova, Azerbaijan, Canada, Romania and the US.  We’re having some amazing moments together.  Next week I’ll be in a youth camp in the middle of the country with no internet access.  (It’s in a tiny village with one dirt road,  horse-carts, and cows who come wandering home to their respective yards at dusk).  Thanks as always for your prayers and support.