Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Family

In the letter that we most commonly refer to as "the book of mark," Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields - and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." If your bible has numbers to represent chapters and verses then you can find that in chapter 10, verses 29 thru 31.

How do Christ's words affect our perception of the family. What is family to you, and what are the implications of having hundreds of siblings, hundreds of mothers, and hundreds of homes? Before we can even begin to talk about the value and responsibility to our family, we have to define who our family really is. And as with all such characteristics of our kingdom culture, we must let the words and actions of Christ define us. The world around us likes to say, "family first" and "blood is thicker than water," but when the going gets tough and a choice must be made between self and family, so often the selfish path is taken. When Jesus talks about leaving behind a family, He says it is for the sake of the gospel and His Name, not because they were draining or difficult. The disciples didn't leave fields because they were tough to plow, but because Christ had more life than all the grain in the world could provide.

How do you see family? Do you ever look around at your "brothers" and "sisters" in Christ and wonder why they don't feel like siblings? Have you ever left anything for Christ?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Kingdom of Heaven

"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go into the land I will show you." Our God's words to Abram are just as powerful today as they were in ancient times. He calls a man out of his home, away from his people, away from his family, to create a new people. To create a new nation. To create a new culture. I believe that today our God is doing the same with His church. After all, the word 'church' means 'called out.' In the church era this call is echoed in Christ's prayer for His disciples, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it."

The Church is spoken of by Jesus as the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God. He talks about it as a kingdom - a nation. The Church is a nation without borders, whose only flag is Christ, and whose only king is Christ. We are among the nations, but we are not of them! I've begun this blog, not to dispute whether or not the church is the kingdom of heaven (read the words of Christ and decide for yourself), but to discuss what it is, culturally, that makes us unique. In a sense, you could say this is an opportunity to get in touch with our roots - to explore our heritage. Culturally speaking, what makes the church, the church.

Also, I would like to draw a distinction between the culture that is popularly portrayed as "christian" and that which truly comes from Christ. I want to create a forum where we can attain a language to more accurately describe what it is that makes us distinct from the rest of the world (if indeed we are any different from the world).

So, here is the first question for discussion: What are some observable differences between the culture of the church and any other culture of the world?