Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Simple Kingdom

I reached a point of rock bottom here lately and really have just been desperate for His presence and to experience Jesus in a real way. So I pray that I would be able to read the Bible and especially the Gospel like it was my first time. I didn’t want to drag any of my theological bents or prior education into it; I wanted to experience Jesus like it was the first time. Amazingly He answered my prayers and I’ve been able to experience this Jesus of the Bible again like new by reading through Matthew. Maybe I’m behind on times or just easily amused by I saw something poetically beautiful, almost rhythmically timed in the Gospel, this beautiful metrical pattern. This idea of the Kingdom coming near is beautiful but often misunderstood or ignored and diluted. John the Baptist was sent ahead of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, to proclaim the kingdom of heaven/God was near and to repent (he is telling a Jewish nation to repent and turn back to God). Jesus goes and gets baptized by John the Baptizer (JTB) and it says, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near (Matthew 4:17).’” Then after that at the beginning of chapter 5 Jesus begins teaching about what he kingdom looks like and the characteristics of that kingdom are (The Sermon on the Mount). Then after that He lives out the kingdom and brings its power to people through healings and further teachings. Then He empowers His disciples to go preach the message. Isn’t that simple? That simplicity is stunning to me. I think we have over complicated all this by making up rules and actually disobeying some of Jesus’ teachings (I’ll write about that in my next blog).

What would it look like to tell the world that the kingdom of God is near, explain to them what this kingdom looks like, show them what its characteristics can be played out, and then invite them in? There is no condemnation in this kingdom but we have separated a lot of people by telling them there is. This kingdom is beautiful and people just need to know Jesus in order to get to it. That in itself is very simple. Maybe I’m just simple minded, but shouldn’t how we preach the gospel just look like what Jesus did, the kingdom is near, here is what it’s like, you are invited, here’s how to get in, now go tell others. Simplicity is so refreshing, like an ice cold sweet ea in June!

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