Grace Emerges

Monday, December 10, 2012

Forward Progress 6: The King and Kingdom

Forward Progress: 
Lessons and Trends in Progressive Christian Faith
by Brad Duncan

A 6-part series on the church, faith and theology,
and how they can move forward into the next generation. 

The King and Kingdom

There's something wrong with our view of the future when it causes us to abandon the present.
In this final article in the "Forward Progress" series, I want to paint a picture of the future, of a better tomorrow.  What are the consequences of the Good News, Grace and Freedom for the world?  What is the mission of the Church, or alternately, how does the Church bring about the consequences of the Good News?

Did Jesus come to proclaim misery to the world but joy in heaven?  Did he teach us to abandon Earthly responsibility in order to achieve spiritual success?  No.  One way for people to see the good side of bad things is to simply hope for another day, even to the extreme of giving up on today.  If you live your whole life that way, you may look at life as a long walk of suffering, and the only hope is the end of it.  If the only point of life is heaven, then as the saying goes "Just kill me now!".

Now, if your life is truly a life of pain, and you are oppressed, needy, sick, etc., as so many people in the world are, then this approach to life might make sense.  But even people in the most dismal circumstances seem to relish the joys in life, in love and relationships with others, in briefly passing beauty, and in contentment in humble circumstances.  But there is pain and hardship out there, and we should look it straight in the eyes.  What does the gospel provide to those in pain?  It provides hope.  It provides comfort.  It shows that God understands and cares.

But what about those of us that just like to complain, but are living in relative comfort?  First, the gospel  provokes a compassionate response in us with means to do something about the pain of others.  Instead of just living for a better future in heaven, we can live to make today better for someone else.  Second, for ourselves we can focus on the spiritual qualities that Jesus taught, and actually live better.  As Jesus illustrated, those that follow the concepts that he taught in their own lives, can stand strong when the storms of life come.  Jesus taught us how to live, not just how to earn a future prize.  In the language of the gospel message: Jesus taught about "kingdom" as being some that has arrived immediately as the collision between God and man - the answer and hope for humanity.  Something that will remain when Jesus is gone physically from the Earth.  Something that will grow, spread, develop.  Something that will overpower evil.

What is our hope for humanity?  How do we participate in that hope?  How does the Holy Spirit contribute to that hope?  What about the church, how does it represent and bring about the hope of the gospel?  How are we using our resources and our knowledge of God to improve the future?

Rather than  answering these questions here...  I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader, and as a goal of this blog and my new blogbook "A Moderate Wall", to explore what is the true kingdom that Jesus came to bring on this Earth.  See also the article More on )open( Future.

Forward Progress: "I am the way, the truth and the life.  Come to the Father through me!  Find the good life at home in my kingdom, where God's will is done, where your needs matter, and where forgiveness reigns." -- Jesus
Other Articles in This Series:

Figure 1.  The gospel should be based on the authority of Christ rather than a mix of grace and judgment.

Figure 2.  The gospel is about change.  The Messiah came to change everything, establishing a peaceful kingdom on Earth where the Holy Spirit has growing influence.  We can't neglect the Earth without neglecting the Kingdom!

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