I wanted to throw in another thought from Leonard Sweet's book that I thought was so powerful and so important. As he talks about Jesus' central message of "the Kingdom of heaven is here/near," and what does that means to us and for us. He is now chatting about us, the church, communicating this kingdom coming and dwelling among us. What you will see is how important a word here or there is to sharing this with others, something we talked a lot about in our theology class a few weeks ago. A word here or there, is very important to how we think about we say, are saying, and have said because language is important. I don't know about you, but I have been careless with my words before and I have had people be careless with their words when talking about God, and then saying "whatever, it's just semantics." Reading this following piece continues to dissolve into me how important our language is, because it begins to create an ethos and a value of our community when we share in it. Check it out:
"Jules Glanzer is the dean of George Fox Evangelical Seminary. During a conversation about biblical understanding of the kingdom, Jules reported on some fascinating research he was conducting. He compared the verbs we usually use with the noun "kingdom," and the verbs the Scriptures use. The contrast is striking. We use verbs like "build" the kingdom, or "bring in" the kingdom, or "advance" or "establish" the kingdom. Many books have been written on how to "achieve" the kingdom of God. But the verbs the Bible uses are very different. The kingdom is something we "enter" or "find" and then "cherish." The kingdom is "given"; it's a gift that is "received." We can live a "no fear" life because "it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
"In other words, the kingdom of God is not something we "build" or "promote" or "push forward." The kingdom is not something we "bring in," but something we "enter" and "receive." The kingdom is even something that "comes," and sometimes only comes "close," with the cells of our consciousness too weak to pick up on its signals. It is good to know that "close" now counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and holiness."
How great is that? I love that and I think it is very important because I know I can drift towards "promoting" and trying to "build" the kingdom by programs and events and hype and all the stuff that WE can muster up. But when moving in the rythym of God and partnering with a team that desires not to "build," but to BE a people that cultivates an atmosphere for God's kingdom to be received, to come, to come near. I'm feeling continuely moved to to see people respond to the risen Jesus, not by "coming to a place" to sing and watch, but to "go and be" this risen flesh to a lost and broken world!! So that when we do gather to sing and participate with people it's a celebration, a response of what has been and is happening, not the pinnacle of what we are doing. We no longer work up to and for Sunday, but we live as and in the risen flesh every moment of every day and gather whenever, to celebrate with a community of people that Jeus is Lord and HE is rapidly expanding His kingdom.
Behold then become