Concluding Summary of Sermon Series: Your Kingdom Come
This reflection is a brief summary of the sermon series, "Your Kingdom Come."
When Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray, one of the phrases he used is, "Your Kingdom Come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." We have been spending the last several weeks looking at what that means. We have learned that not only is it subversive in a subtle way, but that we are making a declaration of loyalty in praying this prayer. We are committing ourselves to living under the Reign of God and no longer under the Reign of this World. That means that we are ready and willing to evaluate the forces that have shaped our attitudes and practices, whether they are tradition, history, or culture. It means we are able to do this openly without fear because our commitment lies with the reign of God and not our cherished traditions.
This means that God's purposes become our purposes. God's purposes are relational, he came to reconcile a lost world to himself. We are his tool to do so. He has always sent his people into the intersections of life to be a kingdom of priests and a light to the nations. He does not call us to retreat to a bunker or fortress, but to be among the people of the world as a alternative community that demonstrates and points to the reign of God by our words and actions.
Of course, we are not left wondering how to carry this out. God provided a model for us in Jesus Christ. As a result, we do not learn and teach academic facts, we learn and teach a person, Jesus Christ. His passion becomes our passion. His attitudes become our attitudes. His compassion becomes our compassion. His actions becomes our actions. Our faith is not about knowing some facts, but about knowing a person. It is not about an institutional structure, but a community of believers following Christ. The Bible is a tool that God has given us in order to lead us to an intimate relationship with Christ unlike any other relationship we have. Jesus announced the Reign of God, and charges us to do the same.
The Reign of God is unlike anything else. It is an alternate reality for us socially, economically, politically, and religiously. We march to the beat of a different drummer. We are a people whose affiliation is not of this world. Our loyalty is not to any earthly entity, but to God. This changes how we see other people. We do not see foreigners, republican nor democrat, liberal nor conservative, black nor white. From the Kingdom perspective, all are people made in the image of God that are in need of redemption. Under the Reign of God, we are all the harmonious people of God that bestows the most abundant honor to the least of these. We belong to Christ. That is the only affiliation that matters and the only one that will last for eternity.
The Reign of God is good news. It launches an assault on evil and oppression in all of its forms. We recognize that the good news is not just about what will happen after we die, but is also about what is happening in the present. Jesus' preaching of the good news was accompanied by caring ministries. This means that we engage in caring ministry to others. It means that anyone can find peace, love, and acceptance in the Reign of God. It means that we bring wholeness and healing to people as much as possible while knowing that we cannot "fix" all of the problems of the world. We look forward to the time when Jesus will consummate the Reign of God in the end when the Kingdom of this World will become the Kingdom of His Anointed and He will reign for ever and ever! We look forward to when our Lord and Savior will make everything right. He will completely eliminate evil, oppression, and sickness. We don't look backward, we look forward to what God will continue to do in the world.
Since Jesus is our model, and since our affiliation is with him, we look to him to define what we should look like. It is not about an institutional pattern. It is not about an architectural blueprint. It is about having the character of Christ to define us. The blessedness of the Kingdom is about being poor in spirit, being giving and sharing people, not being anxious about what we cannot control, about depending completely on God. It is about identifying with and getting to know the poor and the least of these. It is about having the heart of God and mourning the injustices, inequities, the evil and oppression in the world and doing something about it. It is about hungering and thirsting for justice and mercy. It is about caring for people as Jesus did. It is about being gentile and meek. It is about loving and serving even our enemies. It is about being pure in heart, genuine in loving God and loving our neighbor. Jesus defines what the ideal church and the ideal Christian should look like.
We recognize that we are a large part of God's plan to continue his mission of reconciling the world to himself. God sent Jesus, who sent the Spirit, who empowers us to mission and ministry. We recognize that the mission of God is at the heart of who we are. We are not to be a church that sends, but are a sent people as agents of God's mission. This re-characterizes all we have as resources for God's mission. We do not claim anything belongs to us, it belongs to God to be used for his purposes. We are not stuck to a particular mode of ministry, worship, or building design. We conform everything to fit with God's mission. If something does not fit into God's mission and saps any of his resources away from mission, we discard it. It is not about what we are comfortable with or our personal preferences or tastes. It is about being missional in all we do.
And there is where the series ended. Now the real learning, growing, and transformation is just starting as these principles are internalized and put into action. When we internalize it and move it from the head to the heart, and from the heart to our hands, then we will be like the man who built his house on the rock and not on the shifting sand.