The shift that’s needed, I propose, is for kingdom people to become the sent people of God, to shift from coming to going.
But usually somewhere is something that makes the reading worthwhile.
I found it in Appendix 2, “Kingdom Shifts” of This Beautiful Mess.
What, then, might be required for the people of the kingdom to make a shift from protection to proclamation?
For one thing, we will need to reexamine how Christ has called us to interact with the world. The gospel calls us to live as aliens and strangers in the world. Yet I don’t see this call requiring that we legislate our moral differences as much as proclaim our love for Jesus and the love He has given us for the world.
Some may disagree and say, for example, that the motive behind the Defense of Marriage Act is a love for God. I don’t doubt that, yet I’d ask, Does your love for God move you to love others with an expression of love that they can understand and experience?
If the answer is probably not, then we’re moving further away from our most important value, not closer.
I believe we must choose to be proclaimers of God’s love over being protectors of morality.
…Our failure to love the world is our sin to own.
You may agree or disagree with author Rick McKinley’s example, but it’s hard to disagree with his point: If how we think we’re showing the love of Christ to others is not in reality showing the love of Christ to others, we need to adjust.
But there’s far more to this book than that. The premise is that the kingdom of God is here and now, and as believers, we need to live in that truth. As McKinley puts it,
I hope this book feels like a permission slip from Mom for you: get out of religion free. You see, Someone knows and really likes you. Someone wants you to find that larger, freer experience of being that you sense is out there just waiting for you to live it.
He reminds us how focused Jesus was on telling about the kingdom. The gospel of Matthew contains “the kingdom of heaven” 31 times. In Luke and elsewhere, “the kingdom of God” comes up 65 times. Preaching the good news of the kingdom was of primary importance.
His insight about advancing the kingdom versus being in the kingdom was helpful to me.
When Jesus talked about the kingdom, He never talked about our building it or advancing it. Never. He said, “The kingdom is…” He simply invited His followers to see it, embrace it, believing in the unfading reality of it, and join in what His Father was already doing in the world.
Being kingdom people. I love that and I hate it.
He goes on to explain he loves it because of the discoveries involved in understanding it. But he hates it because being is sometimes harder than doing.
Elsewhere in a chapter about going through hardships in the kingdom, he relays a poignant conversation he had with Celestin, his friend from Rwanda.
I was struck by our global friends’ compassion toward the Western church. In many ways, they feel sorry for us. They see our arrogance toward the rest of the world, our addiction to pleasure and comfort, our culture of sensuality and excess, which make it hard for us to fathom many of Christ’s teachings. They see these not as evidence of superiority but as proof of disadvantage and poverty. They mourn our deep losses and have told us that they pray for us about these things.
“We see what you’re up against,” Celestin said. “When you have medicine for the dandruff in your hair and for the fungus in your fingernails, it’s hard to believe that you need God on a daily basis. That’s a difficult thing to be up against.”
Thought-provoking passages like this and others made this book worthwhile reading to me. Is it the most thorough book on the subject of the kingdom? No. But is it a good and relevant one for our time? Definitely.
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My thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah
for the review copy of this book
- When pain gets too noisy
- Let the body worship