Good news of the kingdom saves the world
Chaplain to the streets Carrie Sant looks at what it means to live "kingdom life" in these times of social, financial and environmental crisis.
"Could the Good News of the Kingdom save our world?"
Personally I do not believe that God is expecting us to ignore the current environmental, political and financial crises and just “hang in there” and wait for God to rescue us out of the consequences of our collective selfish living.
I believe that Jesus came to show us how to live a life that is not governed by material concerns. He had "no place to rest his head" and He taught us not to worry about tomorrow because our heavenly Father would take care of us.
He showed us how to live for the benefit of the whole rather than for our own individual satisfaction and He showed us by example how it is possible to have absolute power but only use it to benefit the whole.
I don't think the message of the kingdom has ever been as relevant as it is today. As Christians we have “The Answer” to the global crisis. The answer is to live the way of life that Jesus taught, each action, each word, each decision building or destroying his kingdom.
As I share these thoughts with people who have rejected church, I find that again and again that they show fresh interest in the gospel. They are not as concerned about their “sin” as they are about the state of our world.
I then explain that living for ourselves is what has brought us to this point in history, but that living the kingdom way will only be possible through understanding Gods’ love in Jesus' sacrifice and responding to it by giving our lives in His service to see His kingdom established here on earth. Only when we know Him and how much He loves us and how He will take care of us, can we truly trust Him and put others first.
Jesus came to save not just individuals but the world we live in.
Revelations 11 v15 says
"Then I heard a voice from heaven saying now has the kingdom of this world become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ"
Jesus taught us to pray "Let thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"
Sometimes I think we only preach part of the good news message, our emphasis is on extending His kingdom by "getting people saved" and "building the church," but we, in the west particularly, have failed to live Kingdom life and have instead been sucked into the very thing that is destroying society and the beautiful world God gave us.
The lie we have believed is that we must look after number one, be successful and achieve our dreams. This is portrayed as bringing happiness. In reality this has been clearly shown to be elusive or at best temporary and very costly. The big business machine keeps promoting things to satisfy every whim. The more we have the more we want and the more we even come to believe we need.
The more we have, the more we feel the need to protect what we have, We provoke others to envy with what we have and then wonder why they want not to believe in our God but to steal it.
We put in rubbish tips things which others would love the chance to make use of and we throw away food that would feed several hungry mouths, just because we were too careless to plan a menu.
We fuel wars that keep our raw materials cheap and the providers of them poor!
Why do we have more?
Do we think we deserve it? … How?
Because we worked hard for it?... Does the woman who walks 15 miles for water at the end of a hard day in the field not work?
Because we were born lucky?
Because we were born blessed?……perhaps we were born blessed so that we could be a blessing! Jesus warned us that it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of the needle. We have an abundance not just of material things but of responsibility too.
We need to face the fact that we as fortunate western Christians do not treat everyone in this world as if they have equal value.
Research actually shows that community is what makes people happy not things. In my experience I find a better understanding of community on the streets among the homeless than I do in church.
Our western culture tries to redeem itself by honoring those who have lots of money and choose to use some of their wealth to do charitable works but it fails to honor the widow's mite. It seeks to delude us into thinking that if we could only get rich we could help God more.
Jesus however says "seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you"
Another verse says "He gave them the desires of their own hearts and sent leanness into their souls"
I believe God is allowing social, financial and environmental crisis in order to wake us up to the fact that we are failing to live as he has taught us. He expects us to do something about our greed and exploitation. This is because "He is not willing that any should perish ..."
We are encouraged in scripture to come to know God's ways and not just His acts. To me throughout the Bible He allows consequences of wrong living, and then warns people to repent. If they do He intervenes!
"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, Then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land."
It is relatively easy to hear a message that says that we must love God, it is not too hard when we live in the lap of luxury to realise that we should thank him, worship him, spend time with Him live upright lives, give a tithe to Him, and maybe, like the rich young ruler (luke 18 v18-23), we say “yes, I do all that Lord!”
Maybe we even think we love our neighbor as ourselves.
Jesus said, “One thing you lack go sell what you have and give to the poor.”
How should we respond?
How should we respond to events that threaten our financial security?
What does Paul mean when he says we should present our lives as a living sacrifice?
"And they overcame him by the word of their testimony, the blood of the lamb and they loved not their lives unto death."
The times of man's ignorance God has winked at but now he calls all men everywhere to repentance.