To start with I want to clarify that when we’re talking about “church” in this section of Kingdomology, we’re talking about the CHURCH universal. We’re talking about the connection that all Christ followers have across the world and for all time. We’re not talking about a local body of believers like First Christian Church in Liverpool, NY. In other words, these are the folks who live in different parts of the world and from different time frames that may or may not have slightly different scriptural interpretations than me, but are still in the same family of God by grace alone. We’re still Kingdom of Heaven Citizens. I do believe there is a place for local body church membership. But that’s another post. For now though, there is another point which the Bible includes as being part of the admission to God’s Church, and that point deals with ‘repentance.”
Ok, show of hands here. How many of you had the burden of memorizing seemingly useless poetry in Junior High School? Yup, me too. But to this day there are a few of those old classic jewels that still stick in my head. One of those was by Emily Dickinson and it went to the tune of, “A word is dead when it is said some say. I say it just begins to live that day.” Now, in addition to the simple fact that the poem is short, I also remember it because it actually says something. I tend to agree with dear old Emily that words are powerful and have the ability to do good or evil. Just ask any elementary school kid on the playground that gets called names. I’ve had my share of complements and ridicules growing up so I know all about it. But when it comes to real names, I like mine. There have been times that I’ve thought of the Stephen in Acts Chapter 7 who was martyred for the Faith. Stephen was a man of great faith who laid it on the line to the point of death. That makes me proud. Some folks have shortened the name to six letters making it, “Steven”, but I would never submit to such a heresy. In fact, I actually draw encouragement from the man who went before me and gave his life for Christ. Names can do that. They can bring boldness and also they can cause discouragement.
But what kind of thoughts and feelings come to mind when you hear the name “Church”?
I got an interesting email from one of our readers a few days ago that I wanted to throw out for discussion. Stan, who works through his own site at Atheism-Analyzed posed the question of how we as Kingdom Citizens are to engage in the political systems that we live in here on this side of eternity. I’ll paste his question below, give a couple of responses myself, and then turn it over to you to think about and then respond back to if you like. Here you go . . .
Well things are rolling right along in our transition time between the church plant and the next Kingdom Adventure God has for us. The kids are in good schools. Deb is working in a school library; which she loves. I’m picking up odd jobs, interim opportunities, and some other ministry projects as we wait on God’s timing and move. Still looking for clarification as to whether we need to move into another plant or take an established preaching position and focus on sending others out. But during this time I’m also taking in things around my boyhood home here in Amarillo. Like Paul, I’ve looked around at the city’s Objects of Worship and have come across a number of signs like the one shown here. While I do agree with the scripture on the sign, I’m not sure that’s the best way to win people to the love of Christ. Might as well just get a bull horn and tell everyone on Polk Street that they’re going to Hell. While there is a time and place for truth and clearly articulating the gravity of sin, I don’t think that sticking a sign like this in my yard is actually going to awaken my neighbors need for Christ’s love. More than likely, whoever owns that placard is going to just be set aside on the mantel as another “religious nut” from the mid-west. Seems like a better approach is to get involved in people’s lives, love on them, and then get some healthy dialogue going. How do you go about talking about issues like sin with people who don’t use that kind of vocabulary much?
I had a great time meeting Don Novack this morning. Don is a church planter in Amarillo and is heavily involved with Christmas in Action. We talked a lot about faith, churches, and some of the spiritual make up of the area. I always knew that there was a higher percentage of folks who attend Sunday morning worship services here than in other parts of the US and Europe. But it was also interesting to see that no matter where you go, you’ll still find folks who claim the name of Christ, but only attend worship gatherings once or twice a year. Is the whole “going to church” thing just a personal preference, or is there something more to it?
I’ve been rocked over how much Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven in the scriptures. We also see that type of thinking from the apostles as they shared the message of Christ around the Roman world. Paul likewise continued that theme throughout the New Testament. One of my favorite texts that illustrate this is in 2 Timothy 4:1 where Paul encourages the young preacher Timothy. Paul states. “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word . . .”
The kingdom reality is just all over the place when you think about it. So what we find is that Christ came for more than just offering fire insurance, but something totally and completely “new and from above”. (Note John 3:3) A common misunderstanding about the Kingdom is that it is something that will be established when Jesus comes back.
Welcome to our first official posting on “Kingdomology”, a site dedicated to expanding the love of Christ and Kingdom of God the world over. While we’re anticipating a lot of really great discussion, the purpose of this site is to encourage as many people as possible toward experiencing what it really means to live as citizens in the Kingdom of God.
Over the next few weeks I’ll spend more time further expanding on the purpose of Kingdomology, but to begin with, I want to explain more about how this blog came about.