Tag Archives: kingdom of God

Up, Up, but Not Away: The Ascension of Jesus

When the first Ford rolled off an assembly line in 1913, some people thought it ingenious, some thought it a novelty, but only a few recognized it as an era-changing event. The same could be said of the first mobile phone call made in 1973 by a Motorola engineer as he walked down the streets of New York City. Or one might mention the Internet Protocol Suite that was introduced in 1982.  It transformed the computer networks of a few eggheads into the world wide web. These were transforming events, but at the time most people missed their significance. Continue reading

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God The Builder (2 Samuel 7)

2 Samuel 7 has been called “one of the most important chapters in the Bible.” Here we explore its importance to the biblical story of Jesus and to our lives.

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Asking Questions of John 3: Why Did Jesus Interrupt?

We are asking questions of John 3. Here is one: Why does Jesus abruptly change the subject and talk to Nicodemus about the necessity of being born again and about the kingdom of God? So here’s the picture: Nicodemus is … Continue reading

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How to Seek the Kingdom

…if we don’t give priority to seeking his kingdom, we’ll never find it. “Seek second the kingdom and his righteousness” and you’ll be wasting your time. But that’s the way God intended it. The half-hearted, the religious dabbler, the spiritual dilettante never see the kingdom. “The kingdom of heaven,” Jesus once said, “is like a treasure hidden in a field.” Any number of people can pass right by it and never know it’s there. It is the one who hungers and thirsts for righteousness that is filled, not the one who nibbles at it. It is “he who seeks [who] finds,” not he who daydreams. Continue reading

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You Can’t Measure Success While the Game Is Still Being Played

We play a game at our house called Ticket To Ride. The game is played on a board where railroad routes are outlined to cities all over the country. Each player draws three route cards worth varying numbers of points, … Continue reading

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The Kingdom Commission

Earth is in a civil war – a spiritual war, really, though we must understand that spiritual means more than religious, or mystical or emotional. Spirit is un-bodied personal power, and earth is caught in a cosmic struggle between opposing … Continue reading

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How to Set Your Heart on Things Above

Craig Larson tells about driving to work in a suburb of Chicago and seeing an SUV with the words Texas Longhorns prominently displayed on the spare tire case. The trailer hitch was adorned with a steer-head. The license plate frame … Continue reading

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The Role of Witnesses: Revolutionary or Religionist?

Once the disciples had grasped the big picture – that the kingdom of God had broken into our world with Jesus’s resurrection – they began telling others. They started functioning, just as Jesus said they would, as witnesses to him and the resurrection.

We will go wrong if we think those early followers of Jesus thought they were spreading a new religion. Nothing could have been further from their minds or more repugnant to their hearts. They were Jewish people who worshiped the God of Abraham, who had acted through Jesus to bring the world under his rule and would take further action still.

The apostles didn’t think of themselves as starting a religion but as carrying on a revolution. They announced that Jesus, not Caesar nor anyone else, was the rightful ruler of the world. Continue reading

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The Role of Witnessing: Telling People What We’ve Seen

But they did understand that the people who killed Jesus might kill them too. The authorities had grilled Jesus about his followers before they executed him. That was ominous.

Jesus had been executed as a revolutionary, and the disciples knew how their Roman overlords treated revolutionaries. During the slave revolt, Rome brutally executed thousands of – not combatants but – POWs. The same general who conquered Jerusalem had once lined the Appian way from Rome to Capua with crucified POWS. Every 2/10ths of a mile for about a hundred miles, travelers on that road saw a different dead slave nailed to a cross – 6,000 in all.

The Empire thought of crucifixion as an attention-grabbing billboard that would leave everyone talking about what happens to people who challenge Rome. The apostles had seen smaller copies of that same billboard many times. Continue reading

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Getting into Heaven Is not the Point

Christian faith is often pictured, by Christian and non-Christian alike, as a kind of insurance policy that secures a person on Judgment Day from a guilty verdict and a sentence of eternal damnation. Some people choose to purchase the policy, some choose not to, and others ignore it altogether.

This picture misrepresents the story the Bible actually tells. It is a caricature, having less to do with what the Bible says than with the concerns we bring to it, chief of which is saving our own skin. Or, failing that, our own soul.

God wants to save our souls and our skin even more than we do, hence the importance of the biblical doctrine of the resurrection. But God has other concerns as well. Humanity is but one part, albeit an important part, of the larger creation which God, according to the biblical revelation, intends to save and restore.

If asked, many people – both those who attend church and those who don’t – would say the whole point of Christianity is to get into heaven. Death is looming, eternity awaits, heaven is the much-preferred destination, and Christianity offers an affordable plan for getting there.

Were someone to lay out this synopsis of the faith to St. Paul, he would not recognize it. If we told him we had come to this understanding through his letters, he would be appalled.
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