The Kingdom of God Expressed Through Community

As I was listening to Luke 14, I was thinking about the means by which the representation of love expresses itself. In other words how we, as followers of Jesus, manifest His presence to those around us. What does this look like? Then I came to this part:

‘When [Jesus] went into the house of one of the rulers… to eat bread, they were watching him… when he noticed how they chose the best seats, [he] said to them, “When you are invited by anyone… don’t sit in the best seat, since perhaps someone more honourable than you might be invited… and he who invited both of you would come and tell you [to move]… Then you would begin, with shame, to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may tell you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ 

…He also said to the one who had invited him, “When you make a dinner or a supper, don’t call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbours, or perhaps they might also return the favour, and pay you back. But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; and you will be blessed, because they don’t have the resources to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous.”

When one of those who sat at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is he who will feast in God’s Kingdom!”

extract from Luke 14:1-15 (WEB)

Blessed indeed. Aren’t we, as followers of Jesus, literally those who have ‘invited’ Jesus? Isn’t this what we profess as the root of our faith? How many times have you invited your friends round for dinner, or similar? How many times have you invited the poor, the maimed, the lame… or whatever might be the 21st century equivalent? I can’t think of a single time when I have done the latter. Can you? I bow my head knowing how far I fall short.

I am also struck by the idea of the concurrence of humility, kindness and generosity. One doesn’t stand on its own, not when we know Jesus. They are all part of the same, part of the great language of agape, as Brother Andrew puts it.

It seems to me that everything in the Kingdom of God is expressed through community, and that one of the greatest lies of our times is that the world revolves around ‘me’.

Reblog: A Beautiful Kingdom Warrior’s Perspective on Race Relations in America

Very interesting post.

I imagine there are many negative things within British culture that cause polarisation. For instance, there is widespread prejudice against gypsies in the UK (some people say one shouldn’t use the term ‘gypsy’ but as far as I know it is what they identify themselves as). When you’re close to it you don’t perhaps see yourself as prejudiced, maybe you see it as common sense. After all, gypsy communities are often involved in crime and social disorder… or so the story goes.

More generally, people will say ‘I’m not prejudiced’ but then will spout the rhetoric of overtly divisive political groups who blame either immigrants or the unemployed for everything bad that has ever happened in England since Alfred the Great. The stupid thing is that the UK has a long history of being ‘multicultural’, going back two thousand years when the Romans first invaded. Various different races/cultures have invaded/influenced/imposed since then, until we invaded half the world under Queen Victoria (which was without doubt inherently racist!). All of us have mixed ancestry.

That said, there are some things that are perhaps more noticeable by outsiders, and in relation to the US it seems to me that America is obsessed with labels and putting people into boxes right from childhood. There is also the (now universal, in the internet era) phenomenon of opinions being given the same weight as facts, which is troubling in and of itself. One of the pitfalls of freedom of speech? In this sense, ignorance is often as much at fault as prejudice… and that fact just makes me weary. :-/

The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors

rosaparks

Becky and I began The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors this January as a place to empower Christian women and to host redemptive (redemption: n. the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil) dialogue on gender issues within Christianity.  We chose to name our blog “The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors” because we believe that our role as Christians is to partner with God in the redemption of the world’s brokenness, restoring God’s kingdom on earth.  When God presented Eve to Adam in the Garden of Eden, it was as his “ezer kenegdo” (Genesis 2:18, 20; ezer appears throughout the Old Testament to describe God’s help in warfare – i.e. the Warrior bit).

A simplistic summary of the story of the world is: the Creation (all was good, according to God’s plan), the Fall (all is broken and in need of redemption), and God’s Redemption Plan (encompassing all aspects of God’s restoration…

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Consider Yourself at Home

Jesus… looked at the people sitting around him and said, “Look! Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does what God wants is my brother, my sister, my mother.”

Mark 3:33-35 (GNT)

‘Consider yourself at home’ is how we should welcome people into our churches. This is how we should love one another within our churches. There should be no ‘insiders’, no ‘outsiders’. We should greet one another as if we are greeting Jesus, for we all belong to Him, we all live through Him, we all live in Him. We should value one another as we value Jesus, forgetting our differences, recalling our shared joy, our shared hope.

We have many parts in the one body, and all these parts have different functions. In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body. So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us. If our gift is to speak God’s message, we should do it according to the faith that we have; if it is to serve, we should serve; if it is to teach, we should teach; if it is to encourage others, we should do so. Whoever shares with others should do it generously; whoever has authority should work hard; whoever shows kindness to others should do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:4-8

Church should be the place where we model community, the community that our culture has so sadly lost. Church should be the place where outsiders can come and meet Christ in the warmth, in the generosity and in the loving wisdom of those who are already there. Together, Christ uses our fractured, broken, silly selves to make a glorious reflection of His face.