Wednesday, April 24, 2013



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!



I want to revisit the words of Jesus as recorded by Matthew and Luke and unpack the two universal problems you can get rid of, as you seek after the Kingdom of God.
In Matthew's record Jesus offers the seeking of the Kingdom of God as an alternative to worry. He says, "You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles (or the rest of the world) eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:31-34)

NOTE there are two ways of living your life. Let's designate these two ways as earthly-the way the rest of the world lives-and heavenly-the way Jesus urges his followers to live. You could say the earthly way is the kingdom of man on earth and the heavenly way is the way of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus clearly describes the earthly kingdom of man as being filled with two dynamics. One-the nations of the world without faith eagerly seek after temporal things, such as eating, drinking, and clothing. Two-they continually worry about what they will eat, what they will drink and what they will wear. The earthly kingdom of man focuses itself on this kind of stressing out; they spend their time worrying! Essentially, this is worrying about your life, literally your life's breath.

The Kingdom of God people of faith are given three instructions. One-know that God knows your needs and wants, so don't spend your time worrying about these things. Two-keep on seeking after the Kingdom of God and God will add these temporal things to your life. Three-don't worry about tomorrow either.
So, do you tend to spend your time worrying about the temporal things of life or about what's going to happen in your future? Jesus gives you the two step answer to your worries right here. Step #1-"Stop your worrying, because God cares more than you do about your needs!" Step #2-"Spend your time seeking after the Kingdom!" Focus your life and time on what it means for you to trust in Jesus enough to follow him. Focus your life and time on getting into that Kingdom state of mind we discussed yesterday. Look for the divine appointments God is setting up for you each day and do your best to show up!

There is a watching, waiting and worn-out world around you. They are in desperate need of answers and solutions that only Jesus can give them.
So, if you want to follow Jesus more closely and experience the Kingdom state of mind, (1) stop spending your time worrying about things the rest of the world is worrying about. (2) Keep on seeking after the Kingdom 24/7.

In Luke's record Jesus offers the seeking of the Kingdom of God as an alternative to living a life of worry and fear. Jesus says, "And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:29-32)

Jesus repeats the same theme by saying, "Do not keep on worrying." Then, Jesus warns of another problem that goes along with worry-FEAR. Jesus says, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom." Worry and fear are destructive bedfellows. Fear is the opposite of everything you are in your Creator, and therefore it has a negative effect on your mental and physical health. Fear is worry magnified.

My dad used to say to me, "There's no use putting up your umbrella, until it rains." I've also advised my friends, "Wait to worry!" Most things we worry about never, ever happen!

If you find yourself eagerly holding on to either or both of these, you are living an earthly life without the benefit of God and His Kingdom. Jesus prayed, "May your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven." Jesus' answer to your worries and fears is: That's no way to live, so stop it and seek after the Kingdom state of mind.