Last week I posted “The Lord’s Prayer and the Kingdom: Pt. II” which included a video of Brian McLaren speaking about the phrase “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This video generated some very good comments which compel me to share a few more thoughts about the Kingdom and living in community.
First, the Gospel of God’s Kingdom is bigger. The message of God’s Kingdom is bigger than any one view or perspective of it. One thing that I love about McLaren is that he provokes dialogue more often than answers questions. In this way I think he often leads his readers or listeners to ask bigger, better questions. It’s OK not to agree with all of his conclusions when he provokes deeper thought on important issues.
Let us not be content to think of the Kingdom of God as we always have without asking God, once again, to help us see just how his Kingdom truly is “at hand”. (Matt 4:17)
Second, living in God’s Kingdom means living in a community. Kingdom life is life lived in relationship with other people. Being in relationship with other people also means that conflict and disagreements occur. The “rightness of the Kingdom Heart” requires that we interact with one another with deference, “in humility consider others better than yourselves”. (Phil 2:3)
This does not mean that we don’t have or express our opinions. It does mean that we hold these opinions with humility. Being passionate about a point of view is good. There are times when we need to challenge one another. We should think seriously about the difficult issues of our time but we should not think so seriously about ourselves that we forget the needs of those around us.
There is a lot in the McLaren video that I wholeheartedly agree with. There are some things that McLaren says in the video, and elsewhere, that gives me pause. As a community we can help one another discern what is worth keeping from that which isn’t.
Don’t feel compelled to trust Brian McLaren blindly, or anyone else for that matter. Think through what they say, engage the ideas that they bring, reflect thoughtfully on what Scripture says, and ask God’s Spirit to guide you to both understanding and action.
Third, our ability to be a part of one another’s lives in spite of disagreements is a testimony to the Gospel. God’s Kingdom needs all kinds of people. Some of us may lean right and others of us may lean to the left. Still others of us may not know which way we lean or if we lean at all. One of the most amazing things that we see in Scripture is who God uses: the rich and the poor, soldiers and centurions, whores, beggars, donkeys, and a few who are a part of the religious “in” crowd and many that are part of the religious “out” crowd. Remember these words from our study in Galatians?
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28
One of God’s greatest miracles is that he is inviting us all to participate in his work in the world, the work of His Kingdom. God takes all kinds and he makes them one.
May that always be the case with us.