Category Archives: kingdom

mission & the kingdom

some great thoughts by the venerable Newbigin

“The concern for mission is nothing less than this: the kingdom of God, the sovereign rule of the Father of Jesus over all humankind and over all creation. Mission.. is the proclamation of the kingdom, the presence of the kingdom and the prevenience of the kingdom. By proclaiming the reign of God over all things the church acts out its faith that the Father of Jesus is indeed ruler of all. The church, by inviting all humankind to share in the mystery of the presence of the kingdom hidden in its life through its union with the crucified and risen life of Jesus, acts out the love of Jesus that took him to the cross. By obediently following where the Spirit leads, often in ways neither planned, known, nor understood, the church acts out the hope that it is given by the presence of the Spirit who is the living foretaste of the kingdom.” (Newbigin, The Open Secret, 64)

“I have described mission in terms of the proclamation, the presence, and the prevenience of the reign of God. The reign concerns the whole history of the human family and of the cosmos. At the heart of the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples is the petition: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s will is to be done on earth. The call of Jesus to believe the good news of the impending kingdom leads at once to the call to “Follow me.” There can be no separation between believing and following, between faith and obedience. The prayer “Thy will be done” is in vain if it is not made visible in action for the doing of that will. Consequently, missions have never been able to separate the preaching of the gospel from action for God’s justice.” (Newbigin, The Open Secret, 91″

HT: NextReformation


The flunk-outs and drop-outs and burned-outs…

The flunk-outs and drop-outs and burned-outs. The broke and the broken. The drug heads and the divorced. The HIV-positive and herpes-ridden. The brain-damaged, the incurably ill. The barren and the pregnant too-many-times or at the wrong time. The overemployed, the underemployed, the unemployed. The unemployable. The swindled, the shoved aside, the replaced. The parents with children living on the street, the children with parents not dying in the “rest” home. The lonely, the incompetent, the stupid. The emotionally starved or emotionally dead. And on and on and on.

Is it true that “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal?” It is true!…
Jesus offers to all such people as these the present blessedness of the present kingdom—regardless of circumstances…
Even the moral disasters will be received by God as they come to rely on Jesus, count on him, and make him their companion in his kingdom. Murderers and child-molesters. The brutal and the bigoted. Drug lords and pornographers. War criminals and sadists. Terrorists. The perverted and the filthy and the filthy rich. The David Berkowitzs (“Son of Sam”), Jeffrey Dahmers, and Colonel Noriegas.

Can’t we feel some sympathy for Jesus’ contemporaries, who huffed at him, “This man is cordial to sinners, and even eats with them!” Sometimes I feel I don’t really want the kingdom to be open to such people. But it is. That is the heart of God….

If I, as a recovering sinner myself, accept Jesus’ good news, I can go to the mass murderer and say, “You can be blessed in the kingdom of the heavens. There is forgiveness that knows no limits.” To the pederast and the perpetrator of incest. To the worshiper of Satan. To those who rob the aged and weak. To the cheat and the liar, the bloodsucker and the vengeful: Blessed! Blessed! Blessed! As they flee into the arms of The Kingdom Among Us. — Dallas Willard


Jesus & the mosque

I read this on BW3‘s website & decided to copy it – in its entirety here – because it was that good to read. The article is written by Leighton Ford, who worked closely with Billy Graham.

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Jesus and the Mosque

“On a shelf at home I have a copy of Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road, the story of the Syrian-born writer Mazhar Mallouhi. As a young man who grew up in a Muslim family he had a profound spiritual hunger, read widely, learned of Jesus in the Bible, and became a follower of Christ while remaining loyal to his Muslim culture. His novels are read by millions in the Middle East. Through them he has sought to bridge misunderstandings between Muslims and Christians.
In the book is a photo of him in the famous Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo, sitting with a group of Muslims as they read the Gospels together. It is his custom to say, “I am a follower of Christ. Here is what Jesus said. Tell me honestly, do you think I am living as Jesus said I should?”

I thought of Mallouhi’s question during the heated dispute over the location of a Muslim mosque and community center near Ground Zero in New York. Among the voices being raised – some harsh with anger, some deep with indignation about “rights”- I wonder if the missing voice is that of Jesus? If I were a Muslim I might want to claim rights, but also want my leaders to consider whether another location would work and help to heal some deep hurts. But I am not a Muslim. Those issues are for the Muslim community to decide.

What I need to ask is: what does Jesus say to us who say we follow him? Suppose we, like Mallouhi, sat down with some Muslims in the new community center, and read with them some of the words of Jesus, words like “Do good to those who hate you.” That could apply to radical terrorists who want to blow us up. So how can it not apply to Muslim neighbors who are living among us?

Many years ago my late friend J. Christy Wilson was pastor of the first ever Christian church in Kabul, Afghanistan. Through the good offices of President Eisenhower permission was granted to build the church, attended by Christian expatriates. The time came when the Afghan authorities revoked permission and announced they would knock the church down. When the bulldozers arrived what did the Christ followers there do? They served tea to the workers who were destroying their church building! They were living out a central tenet of our Christian faith – that we are “saved by grace” -God’s grace freely given in Jesus Christ – and they showed grace.

How can we do that? I hope the churches and the Christ followers in New York can figure it out. Perhaps delivering a cool drink to the workers who will build the center? After all Paul went so far as to write (and this was about enemies, not neighbors) “If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.”

Does this mean we naively accept real evil? Not at all. I understand the rage that 9/11 stirred. Force is often needed to protect the innocent. But ultimately I have to follow Jesus and his follower Paul in the baffling reality of Paul’s admonition to “Overcome evil with good.” What does the love of Christ compel me to do? Perhaps whether in New York or Charlotte to extend a little more grace – actually a whole lot more. Wouldn’t that be the best witness we could make?” –Leighton Ford


a couple of 4th of July thoughts

For July 4th, a (set of) thought(s)

part of his thoughts:

As for me and my house, though I’m opposed to war for Jesus’ followers, we want to celebrate justice and we want to honor those who take up the causes of justice in this world, and we want to give thanks to God in the midst of this awful mess of how to achieve justice in this world for the justices that are gained and for the injustices that are undone.

Frankly, I can’t think of a better place to celebrate with thanksgiving before God for freedom and justice than in a church, in a place that focuses our attention on God, and in a place where a cross puts before us the price to be paid for those who want that final and full justice.

The Birth of Two Kingdoms: A Fourth of July Reflection

The last part is the best:

As he made clear to Pilate, Jesus came to establish a kingdom that is “not from this world.” The kingdom Jesus came to establish is not a “new and improved” version of the systems of the world. It’s something altogether different. For example, while all versions of the kingdoms of the world resort to violence against enemies when they deem it necessary, citizens of Jesus’ kingdom are called to imitate him by sacrificing themselves out of love for their enemies.

As noble as America’s ideals are, followers of Jesus must never buy into Adam’s delusion — repeated throughout history and still widespread today — that political ideals are a formula for the Kingdom of God. For the Kingdom is not about enjoying “life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.” It’s about looking like Jesus, dying out of love for the very people who crucified him.


why God chose us

I read this here this morning and it struck me afresh of why God has chosen us (hint: it aint because we are so ‘worthy’)

Deuteronomy 7:6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you…

7:7-8 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you…