Wednesday, April 24, 2013

THE KINGDOM AND THE JESUS MOVEMENT


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Jesus' primary teaching was the good news of the Kingdom. His challenge was to "Follow me!" and as people began to follow, the Jesus movement was launched.
The purpose of the movement is to do one of the most difficult things ever-to introduce Jesus to the world by demonstrating him to the world, by walking, talking, thinking, and loving like Jesus. You see, Jesus doesn't want you to demonstrate for him, but to be a demonstration of him-of his love and his peace.

Jesus launched a revolutionary movement. Are you participating in this movement-the orbiting (little-c) church movement Jesus founded-or are you still only a spectator in a big-C Church? You can do both and gain much out of your experience, but don't miss out on making the Jesus movement your priority right where you live. Jesus is already moving in the world around you. He's looking for you to join him there. This is what the Kingdom is all about. One couple with whom we walk has set up a study/fellowship evening at their home every Tuesday night. They have become convinced the most important aspect of this little gathering is that they are consistently there, no matter what, every Tuesday night. People come and go, but they know this home is open and welcoming to them on any Tuesday night. There's something refreshing in our world about consistency.

Another couple has spent their time and energy following Jesus' commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself. They have taken this neighborhood love to a whole new level. They don't preach to their neighbors. They don't invite them to a Church. They don't get caught up in the divisive gossip of the neighborhood. They do something entirely different. They have determined to be Jesus to their neighbors-live, think, love, listen, and talk like Jesus to their neighbors.

They have become loving neighbors in their community, and the members of this community are responding in positive ways. They listen to problems and concerns. They laugh with their neighbors and cry with them. In some ways, according to a Jesus standard, they act normally in their neighborhood with a lot of authentic, nonjudgmental love. We desperately need more "normal" neighbors, living life in the love of Jesus. This is what the Jesus movement is to be about. This is Kingdom living at its best!

The Jesus movement that orbits around the organized religious institutions and the community is not made up only of Christians. The Jesus movement includes a vast variety of people from all kinds of cultural backgrounds. What holds this movement together is that each person, no matter his or her religious background, is a follower of Jesus. Each follower is walking through life with a Kingdom state of mind. In the well-known Garden of Eden story, Adam and Eve enjoyed the presence of God. They were all set-good jobs, lush place to live, great retirement benefits, and a personal relationship with God.

They were to fulfill three purposes: * Together they were to reflect the image of the Creator God. * They were to reproduce that image by filling the earth with children. * They were to reign together against evil to cultivate and guard the garden as co-rulers with God.

Both Eve and Adam made a fatal mistake, not only in failing God, but also in failing each other. They had only one prohibition that was set up by God. However one wants to characterize that prohibition and the subsequent encounter with the serpent that lured them into breaking the universal law set up by their Creator, they blew it! They blew it by not trusting their Creator God and by disobeying what he said.

What's interesting is that, by disobeying him, not only did they break the law but also the law broke them. They were expelled from the Garden with three consequences:

* They lost the Kingdom where they were co-rulers with their Creator. * They lost the personal relationship with the Creator God. * They lost the abiding presence of God's Spirit.

Ever since those losses, humankind has been desperately trying to recover. Every religion, philosophy, and political ideology is an attempt to fill that hole in the soul, where there is a deep yearning for fulfillment and joy. Each is an attempt to seek the Kingdom that was lost in the Garden, to seek to reestablish a personal relationship with the Creator, and to seek to restore the abiding presence of God.

Most every religion sets up a system (and often an obstacle course to make your way through) in order to get out of this painful place and get to Heaven, Nirvana, Eden, Shangri-La, Paradise, or the Promised Land. Every religious system is a well-meaning attempt with its own desires and standards. Christians are trying to be the best Christians, Buddhists the best Buddhists, and so on with Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and animists.

Since God created all peoples and is holding them together, eternity has been placed in everyone's heart. This is why people worldwide search for God. At the core of the search is this deep ache from the hole in the soul. Everyone is seeking the Kingdom, seeking that personal relationship with the Creator God, and seeking an abiding presence with God as in the beginning in the Garden of Eden.

But setting up ways to get out of here isn't the way of God; it's the way of humankind. Nor is it God's way to set up a system of dos and don'ts to avoid going to hell. It's interesting to note that there was no system set up in the Garden of Eden and no worship, but only a relationship with the Creator God, walking together in the Garden. This is why, after establishing a massive system of sacrifices and feasts, God says through the prophets, "I want compassion rather than your sacrifices." God wants a relationship. There is a simple distinction made between religion and relationship. Religion is humanity's best attempt to avoid going to hell. Relationship says, "I've already been to hell and don't want to go back!" A personal relationship with Jesus and his movement is living in the Kingdom right here right now!

1 comment:

estetik said...

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Estetik