Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Kingdom Gap

We’ve been looking at Jesus’ teaching on possessions and contentment in Luke 12:13-34. We’ve learned that a “Kingdom Lifestyle” is when you are “rich toward God” (v.21) by “selling your possessions and giving to the needy” (v.33). That sounds really poetic..., if you are Mother Teresa or something!

And how am I supposed to do that? How am I supposed to let go of my “kingdom”? I want my stuff! Really, the only way I am ever going to actually think about giving away my kingdom is if I’ve already got another kingdom! A better kingdom:

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

As I come to understand that my Father has already given me THE kingdom, I can let go of MY kingdom. I can live a kingdom lifestyle. I can resource my stuff for kingdom purposes.

I can live in the “Kingdom Gap”

Living in the Kingdom Gap means:

  • Increasing the Gap between the level you could live and the level you do live.
  • Decreasing the Gap between what you want and what you already have.

So rather than buying that new set of golf clubs:

  1. Save up the money for them.
  2. Give that money to a “kingdom cause”.
  3. Play with your old set
  4. And joyfully call them “My Kingdom Clubs”!
Or if golf isn’t your thing how about a kingdom car? Or kingdom counter-tops? Or a kingdom TV? Or kingdom clothes? Anything you are being content with for the sake of the kingdom!

And rather than grumble about what you have, or lust for the next best thing, take joy in what you have and what you are doing to advance Christ’s kingdom! Take joy in your “kingdom stuff”!

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Going Public

“Hypocrite” - The word just rolls off the tongue with a sneer of disgust. It’s a favored word for skeptics and cynics. “Hypocrite” immediately places it’s object in the category of the inauthentic and fake. Hypocrisy is an infestation that works it’s way through organizations, churches, and individuals. When image is everything then he who wears the best mask wins. When hypocrisy reigns, “To Seem” triumphs over “To Be”.

“To Seem” is particularly important when you have something to conceal. When you have something to hide, you must project an appearance of “got-it-all-together-ness”. That’s why it’s called ‘facebook”, not “heartbook”. “Not me,” you say, “I’ve got nothing to hide, nothing to conceal.”

Really, you don’t? Really? I do.

The irony of the whole affair is that one day everything will be made public. Everything concealed will be revealed. Everything hidden will be exposed. No more hypocrisy because the masks will be off. Jesus put it like this:

“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” Luke 12:1-3

This is a call to be real, especially those of us who claim to be followers of Christ. One day everything will brought to light, all dirty laundry will be aired, and all skeletons will come shuffling out of the closet. Yeah, I’ve got a few myself.

So we might as well be real right now. The “gospel” isn’t about how to be “good”, how to have every (remaining) hair in place, or how to be impressive or respectable. The gospel is about how a Savior loved people who had made a mess of their lives, who took their guilt, judgement, and shame on the cross, and welcomes them back as sons and daughters before they clean up their act (Luke 15:11-32).

That’s a humbling, liberating, and powerful reality. Let’s live it. Be real.

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,

Friday, June 3, 2011

How not to be a pharisee...

We love to read Jesus’ rebukes of the Pharisees. We are astonished of how he takes on the “powers that be” in favor of the little guy. We like it until we realize that we are “the powers that be”! You see, we are those who hold to a high view of scripture, are religiously conservative, and who seek personal holiness - just like the Pharisees!

Now, all those things are good, but can be distorted into something cold, dead and ugly. So, how do we hold true to God’s word and not become like the Pharisees? Let me use the “woes” from Luke 11:37-52 to suggest a few ideas (we can learn a lot from their failures!).

  • Emphasize the inward, not the outward: Luke 11:39-40
  • Majors on the majors, not the minors: Luke 11:42
  • Seek humility, and kill pride: Luke 11:43
  • Remember, God’s word is to be a help, not a burden: Luke 11:46
  • Don’t just revere the prophets, do what they say! Luke 11:47-51
  • God’s word is the key to freedom, not a chain for bondage: Luke 11:52

Marin Luther said that the Bible was like a cradle in which we find Jesus. Don’t examine the cradle, honor the cradle, or try to protect the cradle. Find Jesus!

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,
Pastor Tom