Two Things That Christ Desperately Wants You to Know, Part 1

I don’t know if that title qualifies as “click bait” or not, but whatever: that’s the title that came to me, and what’s more, I believe it.

On one hand, I think Jesus lived in an utterly different reality compared to most of us. I think he dwelled in what might be called “the sacred now.” He lived in a dynamic, living interplay with his Heavenly Father, and I think that reality and relationship was on of the defining characteristics of his life and his ministry.

On the other hand, one of the things that I have come to understand through the years of seeking the Kingdom and pursuing Christ is that Jesus came to show us that we can live in that same reality. 

It’s available to us. Now. 

(As opposed to later, when we die.)

Throughout the stories and reports of his life, Jesus makes these remarks about the potential of life here and now, on this earth: 

One of his favorite “pronouncements” is that the Kingdom of God—a way of life that is soaked through with divine, loving potential—is available and present now, in and among us (Matthew chapter 4, Mark chapter 1, Luke chapter 17).

In John’s gospel, Jesus repeatedly refers to a life that is characterized by a “stream of living water” (that is, water that is flowing and moving) that is, again, available to human beings in their present reality, not distant. 

So, what if Jesus was telling the truth? 

I know for myself, much of my life has been marked by anything but that type of reality. Most of the time I found myself either waiting for a “magical” transformation (that never seemed to happen), or a simple resignation that I could/would never change until I died and then I could go “be with Jesus in heaven”, at which point I would:

  • get a harp to play and a toga to wear
  • sing some sort of vague worship song while living on a cloud
  • finally” be changed

This reality seems pretty counter to what Jesus was saying. According to Jesus, “salvation” is actually a life: a God-bathed, Spirit-directed life.

“Salvation is a life.” This is one of two closely-related ideas that I think Jesus desperately wants his followers to know. Furthermore, I think that if we had a conversation with him right now, he would tell us that to the degree that we can make this (and next week’s) truth a present reality in our lives, we would find ourselves radically, revolutionarily changed.

In fact, I think that one of the important reasons we have these “Gospels” (“Good News” stories about who Jesus was and what he did and why he was our long-awaited Messiah) is that they show just what a “salvation life” actually looks like.

(Hint: it looks like Jesus’ life: helping other people; healing others; being radically compassionate to the hurting; experiencing a joyful dynamic intimacy with his Father; the ability to endure setbacks and suffering; and finally the willingness to offer the totality of his life and body as an instrument to be used for the sake of others.)

The Biblical, Jesus-exemplified salvation is a life, not a death.

It is potentially now, not then. 

It is potentially here, not there.

I don’t know how that strikes you, but I remembered that when I began to wake up and open up to that reality a couple of things happened inside me:

First, I realized how much I had “settled” for something less than the Kingdom of God here and now. My sights had lowered, and I had given up hope that change was possible. I had nearly completely resigned myself to the idea that I would limp and stumble through my earthly life, repeating the same old mistakes and sins I had always committed, experiencing relief only when I breathed my last, and could finally “lay my burden down.” (Don’t get me wrong: I will be happy to lay aside some of my burdens, but it was really about where and how I was settling in my current spiritual life.)

Second, I realized how desperately hungry I was for this life. If Jesus really was offering me a life that looked just like his, and he was offering me that now, rather than later, I wanted it. I needed it. I was beginning to leave a trail of destruction, both in my personal life as well as in the life of those who were closest and most important to me. I wanted and needed this change.

So I guess the questions this morning are:

  • What does “salvation” mean to you? Is it “here and now”, or is “there and later”? 
  • What is your life capable of becoming? Do you believe that Jesus thinks you are capable of living a life like his?

Next week: the other thing that Jesus wants you to know.

Under the mercy,

+e

I’m so grateful for each and everyone of you. As usual: please like, comment and share. 

 

 

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Oh THAT Kingdom….

Some manuscripts contain a postscript to Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer. It reads:

“For Yours is the kingdom, power, and the glory forever. Amen.”

When I pray the Lord’s prayer, I often think about God’s strength and power, and how He is Lord of all the kingdoms on earth, and has unending power. However, recently I stumbled across an interesting passage in the Old Testament that prompted my thinking. In 1 Chronicles, King David is telling everyone that his son Solomon is going to build a temple for God. He ends with this pretty cool prayer that has some interesting echoes:

“Blessed are you LORD, God of our ancestor Israel, forever and always.
To you, LORD,
belong greatness and power, honor, splendor, and majesty,
because everything in heaven and on earth belongs to you.
Yours, LORD, is the kingship, and you are honored as head of all.
You are the source of wealth and honor,
and you rule over all.
In your hand are strength and might,
and it is in your power to magnify and strengthen all.” (1Chronicles 29:10-12)

Do you see the similarities? It’s interesting language that Jesus chooses here.

However, what really jumped out to me as I read the 1 Chronicles passage is the specific location and occasion of God’s power.

When David pray, “the kingship belongs to you”, it’s a very specific thing. God was meant to be, in a very real way, Israel’s king. (When the people demand a king in 1 Samuel chapter 8, God basically says, “You are rejecting me in favor of a human king.”)

So David has a very specific place/kingdom that he’s thinking of when he prays this prayer—it’s the place where God rules, and is meant to rule.

What struck me is the way in which we have a kingdom as well. In a very real way, we are the kings and queens of our bodies, our lives. They are our kingdom; we choose, make decisions; make rules for ourselves.

What if to pray, “yours is the kingdom” means “yours is THIS kingdom—this life?”

What if this epilogue to the Lord’s prayer is actually the most radical part of all? To utterly surrender our kingdom—our lives—to God and allow Him to take the throne?

*e

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