Is the Kingdom of God Dependent on ME?

0-cd-cover.jpgI spent a great deal of my early years in ministry trying to lead congregations to engage with me in actions that might BRING the Kingdom of God to earth.I would list all the particular VALUES of the Kingdom (my list included things like peacemaking, justice, feeding the hungry, loving enemies, etc.). Then I would saying something like, “This is what the Kingdom looks like. Let’s get out there and make it a reality.”

How very legalistic such list based living can be.

It doesn’t matter the content of the list (conservative, progressive, charismatic, liturgical), it was still a list – a list of things that we suppose WE can do to bring God’s Kingdom to our neighborhoods, communities, cities, country, and the world.

But then I wondered: “Jjust how significant this Kingdom of God thing if it is dependend on the WE and the ME?”

Recently I have been discovering a liberating truth. The Kingdom came in the INCARNATION of Jesus Christ (he’s the King of the Kingdom). It is already here.

In Luke 17, we read these words: “20Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

The Kingdom of God was a present reality “in their midst” (in the very presence of Jesus). Jesus was the incarnation of the Kingdom of God. Further, because of his life, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and the sending of the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God remains a present reality among all people.

Now, I guess I could continue to preach and teach: “Here is what the Kingdom looks like. Go and do these things.”

Or I could preach the reality of the Kingdom and invite people to live from its incarnational reality among us and within us.

The first supposes that God is somehow dependent on me. It holds rules, regulations, rituals, and requirements over my head as LAWS or COMMANDMENTS that MUST be obeyed for the Kingdom of God to comes.

Yet I have notice that folks can DO all the “right things” yet what flows from their lives seems to be more like “toxic water” rather than “rivers of life.”

That’s because they begin at the wrong starting point. They launch from a place of burden, get stuck under the LAW, and feel continually frustrated that they never can do enough.

Your map will serve you no good if you don’t know your starting point.

If our starting point is from the reality that the Kingdom has come and “is in our midst” in Jesus and his indwelling Spirit, then we move forward from a place of rest. But REST does not imply inactivity. Rather it implies true spiritual living. It is not life lived FOR God, but from God – from the abundant riches of his boundless grace.

It is life that flows from the living waters of the Spirit.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray to Abba, sayng: “…thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

That prayer to the Father WAS answered in Jesus and IS mediated to all humanity right now by the Holy Spirit. REST in the provisions of his finished work and LIVE FROM the “living waters” that flows from God into your life.

Then you will SEE that the Kingdom of God is here NOW in Christ Jesus – and IN YOU by the work of the Holy Spirit. The values and qualities of the LIFE of Jesus will flow from you…and you won’t need to follow some law or commandment. You’ll just live (and rest) and you’ll see that rest just fall into place in your daily experiences.

Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus
by: Robert Farrar Capon
publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, published: 2002-03-11
ASIN: 0802839495
EAN: 9780802839497
sales rank: 135507
price: $19.25 (new), $16.53 (used)
Here in one volume is Robert Farrar Capon’s widely praised trilogy on Jesus’ parables — The Parables of the Kingdom, The Parables of Grace, and The Parables of Judgment. These studies offer a fresh, adventurous look at all of Jesus’ parables, treated according to their major themes. With the same authorial flair and daring insight that have earned him a wide readership, Capon admirably bridges the gap between the biblical world and our own, making clear both the original meaning of the parables and their continuing relevance today.

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