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Anybody have some change for a Kingdom?
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I have spent the most part of the last 12 years (since my awakening to the works of the evil One) having great contempt for the workings of the likes of a corporation called Wal Mart. This contempt being bolstered by the education brought about by reading such great books as "The Walmart effect", and " The high cost of low prices". I was moved one day, ironically, while pushing my shopping cart across the parking lot of a certain super store, with the revelation that it is not REALLY Walmart's fault for what they have come to be. But it IS, in fact, OUR fault as consumers. Walmart is only giving to us the service and products that are exactly what it is that we want. I could go on a ten page rant on this, but for the purposes of this write, I wish to say something related. Which more importantly, also speaks of the same kinds of issues, but with more important implications.
This "Giving to us what we want, as consumers", is really the crux of SO many things in this world. So much so , that it speaks to the spiritual or religious state of our very existence on this planet.
I have been reading a book by Frank Viola and George Barna called "Pagan Christianity". In it the authors gloriously lay out how it is that what is called the "Christian Church" and its history and practices, since the time of Jesus and the apostolic Church, have in fact , slowly and quite methodically been given over to and shaped by Roman "paganism" and "the world". This, much more than the other way around; what the Gospel message (That is revealed in both the old and New Testaments) was originally intended to do.
While reading this treatise on how very Pagan our churches REALLY are , I was struck again with that same revelation that hit me while walking out of that superstore. That realization being, that we "consumers of spirituality" are also getting exactly the kinds of services and "products" that WE are desiring.
It's just like that great deceiver, or who I would call "the merchant of souls", to exploit or capitalize upon every one of our human character flaws, or our sinful nature. This capitalizing power though, seems to mostly stem from our inability to understand exactly what these flaws are, or how we can even try to fix them without some kind of supernatural guidance.
It s interesting that Jesus drove this "merchant of our souls" out of the temple both figuratively AND literally. The question is: exactly how long did that last? Not very long , I'm afraid.
This old poetic write seems to touch upon many of those flaws as expressed in our current American culture, in the exact context of what I am trying to convey.
The Retailing of America''s Soul-
"I should really get here earlier in the morning", you think, as you park in the back row of the sea of cars.
But of course, with the hours that you keep, that possibility to you seems really, REALLY hard.
Almost every week you go to this great big monstrosity of a building to pick up those things that your quite convinced that you really, REALLY need.
The greeter is passing out a smiley face, or at least a nod and a friendly smile.
A saner part of you might detest this place as you amble slowly up a crowded aisle
"Oh well," you think, "at least I can get in and out , and get my business done
and probably not even have to run into anyone that I know. The savings right there are priceless when your life is go, go, go."
As you proceed about your business, you think, "God, I have way too many vices."
You then thank the Lord for the seemingly many low, low incredibly awesome prices .
You also wonder if this huge place gets way too much of your very hard earned money.
You're reminded of an extra gift you need to pay for, so your disposition even grows less sunny.
As you prepare to leave you think , "Oh well, I'm grateful for the convenience. The price I'm paying is very cheap,and after all my time, it isn't at all lenient."
Your business done , you scramble quickly to the exit, your "necessities" in tow.
That pesky greeter greets you one last time,
"Have a good day!, thanks for visiting our church! Hope to see you again next Sunday!"
And so goes the big, big business of selling "Fire insurance" for the soul.
This really speaks to our fallen nature. How what we really need Spiritually, but we, for some reason, are inconvenienced by, is a greater understanding of exactly who it is that we are, and exactly who the evil ONE (or great deceiver) is. And what EXACTLY he is up to. But, most importantly, we need to know exactly who the God of the Bible REALLY IS , and exactly how all of these three things work together. This is paramount for us as created beings. And of course, Praise the Lord, HE gave to us all of these answers in His Story, called the Bible.
There is a reason that it seems there are no kinds of words that are anathema to our "consuming" human nature, more than the words that Jesus spoke so presciently and pressingly to us on that mountaintop known as the beatitudes from the sermon on the mount.
But even beyond this, we are coming to realize that God is moving right here, right now among His People. HE is showing to the remnant that the thing that He really desires from his people, especially right now, is more than just preaching to us the salvation message and having us merely being the consumers of it. He IS moving for HIS Kingdom on earth, that starts in our hearts, to become the manifest "Kingdom of God" being built ultimately on earth. The Kingdom of God is NOT just something that his people passively await. (Only in zombie like puzzled wonder, wondering what exactly it is we -the remnant- are going to be doing in the kingdom AFTER he returns .)
Most Christians have heard , and been somewhat moved by the expression. " Be doers of the Word, not just hearers of the Word" ( I have been AS guilty, if not MORE guilty than anyone in this. But the Lord is heavily putting all of this on me, and thank the Lord, he is not done with me yet!)
There are many great things that came out of the Reformation, but the Kingdom of God has many seasons and we are entering a NEW, but temporary season. God and His Word never change, but we as people do. This couldn't be better illustrated, I think than this famous old quote of Martin Luther no longer being relevant ( if it ever was):
“If you were to ask a Christian what his task is and by what he is worthy of the name Christian, there could be no other response than hearing the Word of God, that is faith. Ears are the only organs of the Christian.”
–Martin Luther, as quoted in Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1988), 54.
Luther was right that our faith is our greatest power as God's people. But, besides the obvious nature of this quote "flying in the face" of the teaching of 1st Corinthians chapter 12, this way of thinking makes me wonder if we were,, as a church body, not only being consumers, but in many ways being CONSUMED by that "merchant of souls".
Jesus constantly preached and taught THIS idea, of the Kingdom of God being "on earth as it is in Heaven". I KNOW we will see great, unprecedented things ahead. It seems that the modern church has been so very busy with the theology and preaching of the salvation message, that they lost sight of the WHOLE Gospel. AS N.T Wright points out in many of his books.: The church concentrates on the beginning and the end of the Gospels, but the church has seriously been ignoring MOST of what Jesus had been saying and modeling:. The stuff in the middle of the Gospels... Jesus being The actual prototype of God's new creature, in God's New Kingdom on earth.
We are entering that NEW, exciting, HIStorical season.
I dare to even say that the Kingdom of God is coming unbound. THIS might be the pertinent explanation for the seemingly turbulent times we find ourselves in... Maybe even why the "church walls" are in the process of evaporating.
In the light of all of this, maybe the Gospel message that Jesus wants the WORLD to hear in this new temporary season, hasn't been preached onto the WHOLE world as much, or at least in HIS desired way, as we may have been thinking.
Exciting times ahead for the remnant church, faithfully looking forward and working toward that "New Jerusalem", rather than merely looking back and longing to return to Babylon.
Are we willing to trade in this world in exchange for God's Kingdom?
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