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A Jesus Kingdom


So I was chatting with SocietyVs a while back about church, and I proposed writing about what church really should be. it’s been a week, and I’ve been thinking about it, among many other things, most not so holy, and have some thoughts to share. On Wednesday nights at the Tri-C here in Denton we’ve been reading and discussing Scot McKnight’s book One.Life. This book has a lot to do with tearing down our ideas of church, religion, and Jesus in general, and showing us more of what Jesus actually envisioned his kingdom to be. It’s a great book, actually, and I’ve learned a lot so far. However, it also seems like I’ve been nodding in agreement for a while thinking ‘this has been the conclusion to my search for theology’. In doing so, I’ve missed the point, even while I’m agreeing with it.

Scot talks about being ‘right’ a lot. The Pharisees were in many cases ‘right’ and so are we when it comes to spiritual matters. He asks at one point, why did Jesus come to earth? And the common response, “to die for ____” is ‘right’. However, ‘it’s not right enough” (he always gives credit to Flannery O’Connor when he says this).

So, back to my question. What is church? What should it be? What is Jesus’ dream for church? I have a few more stories to tell about my experiences, and some simple answers as well. But, this all revolves around love. First and foremost Jesus came to teach love. The greatest command is to love God, remember? And that alone is not enough to satisfy the inquiry, he adds, love others. In the sermon on t he mount Jesus pushes love to an extreme, and says ‘Love your enemies’. On the cross he teaches us what this means, “forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Love. I will never get tired of teaching love, but it’s altogether another story when it comes to actually doing it. I spoke at my church back in San Antonio when I graduated highschool. I was supposed to give a graduation speech, you know the whole ‘road ahead’ thing- we’ve all heard it more than once. Instead I made a careful decision to talk about love. When I go up in front of the congregation I really understood 1 John a lot better. These people needed to hear it, and so did I, so I said love about 30 billion times. Church is love.

Often times the word church is interchangeable with Kingdom. Again, that’s right, but it’s not right enough. Kingdom is all that God owns, and what does God, the creator of everything, not own? I think Jesus vision was more for Kingdom than church.

When I was in Colorado in the summer of 2009 doing ministry with Seven, Benny and Nikki Nowell, and Brad Lemon face, I learned what it meant to follow Jesus. One time we were in a building once used for prostitution and drug trade, and smuggling. It had been repurposed to serve the homeless youth of the Denver area. I remember Benny saying that it had been reclaimed to God’s Kingdom. The imagery of a spiritual battle, and a strong hold once held by evil and now taken by Jesus’ love, and used to fight in love overwhelmed me.

In Colorado we stayed in a church that had a bit of a motto, “church is not a country club for the members, but a hospital for the sick.” The more I think about it, the more I realize that is exactly what Jesus was teaching, and that’s exactly what needs to change. No matter how sick the patient, the hospital treats them. Actually, the sicker the patient, the more welcomed they are into the doors. A man bleeding out needs a hospital. Jesus came to be a physician to the sick, and that’s exactly what Kingdom means. Fighting on the frontier for those who are hurting, with or without any promise of hint of repentance. There is no room for “I love you, if ____” In Jesus’ Kingdom. Many times in church we love, but only enough to get someone into a bible study, and if there is no interest, there is no love. That congregation in Colorado had it figured out, and I need to get on their page, and on page with God.

I work fighting human trafficking with a group called Rahab’s Rope Denton Chapter. Our meetings on Wednesday nights are filled with prayer. We pray for a really long time, and there’s a lot of scripture, and honesty in our prayers. We just bow, or not and people speak when they have something to say. Sometimes there are short phrases, “open our eyes” and “break the bondage of sin within the church” and sometimes an inspired individual goes on for 10 minutes quoting scripture and pleading and praising God. There are long periods of audible silence, accompanied by spiritual outcry. I think Jesus’ Kingdom Church has more prayer in it. And often times silent prayer.

I didn’t want to bash church too much, but there needs to be an emphasis on why prayer is so important. During communion talk on morning at a particular church a man got up and talked about joy. He had a scowl on  his face, he looked horribly miserable up at the podium and his eyes screamed out at you. And his lips said “joy, for what God has done.” He prayed thanks to God, and all that. It was ‘right’… right? In my mind communion is a party! Jesus ROSE for our sins, and lived a perfect example to us. I think communion is a time where we talk, and God forbid, laugh! I mean, what he said was right, so let’s live it! smile for what jesus has done, and hug somebody during communion. I dare you, reader, to bring a loaf of bread to church and a jug of juice, and start breaking it off and passing it around with a big smile and say,” Jesus’ body, right here, broken, and mended for you. And his delicious grape-flavored blood! I love you.” That’s communion.

There’s so much to say about this topic, I think all theological inquiries revolve around getting church ‘right’. I have a strong feeling, accompanied by strong words, that church isn’t something we’re supposed to get ‘right’. It’s the bride of Christ, it’s the body of believers, it’s love. What is right and wrong about that?

“But Jesus, when you leave, how will people know that we follow you?”
“Disciple, do you still not get it? They’ll know you follow me by your love for each other and for them. All of God’s power, on heaven and earth, has been given to me. And I, with all that power in love, am with you wherever you are, even to the end.”

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 15, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    I really like, the core of faith is love (without it what’s the use).

    Church, for me, follows many of the same characteristics you’re mentioning (ie:hospital, fun, loving, compassionate, and bonding). I always see church as ‘doing’ something – and not just having a ‘pep rally’ or a ;country club’…which seems rather dead and meaningless to me.

    I think church should include every single person that attends and not just be about the ‘leaders’. The congregation needs to be equally as involved and made feel important too. If this does not happen in a church then I am afraid the church is not really a church per se.

    For example, once upon a time I started a group called the ‘action group’. The idea was to start it and maybe a church would adopt the program. All it was was helping people in need that are right in your midst…and we pooled our money in this group and did that. I never felt so alive in all of my life (except when I am writing music). There was something about helping people that really speaks ‘church’ to me. And anyone could be involved – from pastor to new person.

    The group collapsed – couldn’t get any buy in from churches. There was a lot of resistance concerning this idea for some reason, doors closed left and right. I was talking about ideas of belief that can move mountains and an idea is only meaningful because we can ‘think’ it…real faith stuff. The group soon imploded because we couldn’t hold it up alone. But everyone that did help loved it and felt involved with others in a meaningful way.

    That’s church to me.

    • July 18, 2011 at 7:35 PM

      Yeah man, that is exactly what the common notion of a congregation should be, an action group.
      The anti human trafficking group I’m involved with, Rahab’s Rope Denton Chapter, feels like it’s barely holding up sometimes, since a lot of key members of the group are away right now, and there’s been a lag in the main ministry we’re working toward, the SOAP campaign. But the weekly prayer meetings we have on Wednesday nights keep us going. It really opens our hearts every time, and rededicates each of us. Honestly, since I’ve been a part of the group, prayer has been the cornerstone, the foundation, and the walls. I encourage you to get deep in prayer, it really helps, even when there’s nothing else.
      Remember Jesus’ response to the Samaritan woman at the well trying to get him no a theological rant of the time about whether Jerusalem or the Mountain was the right place to worship, a question similar to ours, and Jesus responded by saying, in essence, “Jerusalem is right, you’re wrong. But it doesn’t matter, the messiah’s coming to get rid of all that. When he comes the believers won’t worship in a ‘place’ but in spirit and in truth.” That really means a lot to me. It’s not about where we’re at, or how we’re doing it, worship is in spirit and truth. At to me, that has prayer written all over it.

  2. Xander
    July 26, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    So when your talking about church, you are referring to the body of believers and not where you go worship.

  3. Elisa Michelle
    July 26, 2011 at 3:38 AM

    I have to admit, I prefer your version of church. The church I know tends to be very… selfish and judgmental, and I’ve been the “Jezebel” to those people, the sinner who can do no right. And honestly, all I wanted was love. None of them ever gave that, and if they did it was backwards and conditional, so I determined they weren’t really reading a Bible. Because that’s all I’ve ever seen Jesus really emphasize in the New Testament is love. Everything else is right, sure, but love transcends it all.

    I love it when people do things for others without really requiring a return on it or that the person believe as they do. Those people are inspiring. I really think what Jesus meant by the church were people who loved God with all their hearts, wanted to give people that love as best they could, and would stop at nothing to fulfill that. You know?

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