Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Working for The Kingdom

I heard a phrase the other day that has intrigued me, and I have been thinking about it ever since. It was used in a sentence about the church and it is a call for the church to reach its “redemptive potential”. There is the phrase to consider, “redemptive potential”. I had never heard it before and there was no clear definition offered so I have been thinking about its meaning. This will probably show how postmodernism has affected me as I try to attach a meaning to a phrase that is not mine, and I do not know the author’s clear intent in its meaning, but why should that stop me.

To reach our redemptive potential seems to mean that we as individual followers of Jesus and as the church should be joining with Christ to redeem the culture around us. This should flow out of the context of the local church, and affect our family life, our jobs, our community and, to the extent we have opportunity to reach out, the rest of the world. Does that make sense? Our redemptive potential is, then, our ability as followers of Jesus to redeem the world around us.

What does that mean?

In looking at Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:7-15, we hear Him say, “Thy (God’s) kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.” We are to be praying that God’s kingdom will come to earth so that earth will look like Heaven. In addition, it seems implied that we are to be praying for the strength, desire and ability to work toward this goal. Now, this is not a works based faith. This only happens when Christ, first, redeems us and then through the power of Holy Spirit begins to work in our lives. As we are made alive to Christ then we are to long for Christ to be glorified in every corner of our heart, life…and in every corner of the world around us.

Think of it this way, as followers of Jesus our desire should be to pull Heaven down to earth. That is not to cheapen or lessen Heaven, but it is to have the earth flooded with Heavenly things. Those Heavenly things are what Paul has in mind over in the first part of Ephesians where he says that God has lavished on us every spiritual blessing through Christ. That is, we have access to every spiritual blessing, but it is only through Jesus. For overview sake, those spiritual blessings poured out through Christians to the world would resemble a life that reflects the fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) These qualities, then, are to be used to point people to the glory of God.

This seems to be the Kingdom that Jesus has in mind when He says in Mark 1 that we are to repent because the Kingdom of God is at hand. This means that we are to turn from the former way of life, which is rebellion against God, and to turn to a new way of life in Christ which leads us to living for the glory of God in every area of life.

The practical question is this – how are you, as a follower of Jesus Christ – living this out? How are working by God’s grace to bring the Kingdom of God to your workplace? How are you working by God’s grace to bring the Kingdom of God to your home? How are you working by God’s grace to bring the Kingdom of God to your church? Then, how are you working to help it flow out of all of those places? How is your outward focus? How are you joining with God in redeeming this culture? Will the Kingdom of God every fully come to earth? Not until God works completely to make a new Heaven and a new Earth, but in obedience to Christ let us spend every ounce of energy we have during this life working to reach our redemptive potential.

6 comments:

matthaste said...

I think the concept of “pulling Heaven down to Earth” is what Jesus has in mind with the kingdom language of the Gospels. The best treatment of this subject I have seen is George Eldon Ladd’s “The Gospel of the Kingdom”. It has been revolutionary for my thinking. He defines the kingdom as the “reign of God”. Modern definitions cause us to think of the kingdom as the realm over which a king rules (as in, the kingdom is Great Britain) or as the people over which a king rules (as in the kingdom is the British people). Ladd argues that the biblical notion is not about the physical realm or actual people under the lordship of a king, but rather the act of ruling itself. The kingdom of God is his sovereign authority expressed fully in heaven and partially on earth. This can be seen in Luke 19 where the nobleman goes to a far country to receive a kingdom. It doesn’t make sense that he received a plot of land or a group of people.

Similarly, when Jesus tells us to receive the kingdom of God as little children, the idea is that we would receive the sovereign authority of God in our lives. Ladd emphasizes that the kingly reign of God expressed itself in different stages throughout redemptive history. Thus, the kingdom of God is already manifested in our current earth, but will be supremely manifested in the world to come.

I think this quote from him sums up what you were saying as well: “We should also pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” in my church as it is in heaven. The life and fellowship of a Christian church ought to be a fellowship of people among whom God’s will is done—a bit of heaven on earth”

Jason P said...

I would say I agree with almost everything, but this statement: "Our redemptive potential is, then, our ability as followers of Jesus to redeem the world around us."

I don't believe we can redeem anything. We can be salt and light (influencers), but we don't have the power or the purity to redeem anything. Only Christ can redeem.

When I think of our redemptive potential, I think of believers utilizing all of the God given resources provided to influence with the Gospel of Christ so that Holy Spirit can work through those designated means and bring a dead soul to life that Christ's blood can redeem.

In essence, we are conductors of God's redemptive message. Christ is the redeemer. Our redemptive potential is the fullest extent of our life communicating the Gospel so that the lost might hear the Gospel so they can respond to it having been regenerated by God's Spirit.

Brandon Porter said...

Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that we cannot redeem anything. I guess I assumed that was understood, but you're right, it should be clarified.

I was thinking more of the "redemptive potential" of believers. Where does discipleship fit along with evangelism here?

jerry said...

Everything requires some balance. While it is is true that we cannot redeem anything, it is also true the Christ working in and through us can.

Some say we cannot redeep but we can influence. They use as their mediphor "salt and light" That seems to me to be an excuse to "let go and let God".

* Think of how an adoptive family redeems two children from a lives of squaller and abuse. That is more than influence.
* Think of how a kingdom church rebuilds blighted and sin infested neighborhood; thereby restoring order to a community. That's more than influence.
* Think of how a Christian medical doctor uses their God given gifts and talents to save a life and/or to teach others to save lives. That's more than influence.
* Think of how a Christian plant manager restores order and productivity to a failing operation and redeems the jobs that were scheduled to go away. That's more than influence.
* Think of how a Christian factory worker does their job diligently and productively producing products that bring joy and productivity to others. That is more than influence.

I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. Don't you think that these actions bring Glory to God and communicate the Gospel of Christ in immeasurable ways well beyond the reach of any one individual communicative transaction?

The Gospel of salvation is more than getting individual souls to heaven and living a good and moral lives. The issue is what we are saved for. It is more than preaching or having communicative transactions. Though that is part of it. It is to BE a witness. It is to join God in His passion!! God so love the "World" that he sent His only Son ... He did not send His Son to condemn the "World" but that the world through Him might be saved." If we are not careful we get caught up in the "dualism" separating the spiritual from the secular with the spiritual only having the ability to "influence" not "redeem".

Salt and Light do not just influence things they change things. Salt changes the flavor and even the character of some foods. Salt is used to preserve, to create and to drive the economy in ways that are not even obvious to most people. Without light there would be no vegetation, no buildings could be built in the dark, no artist could create beautiful images, fine and precise musical instruments could be created or built. On and on.

My point is that salt and light are not just influential they are redemptive.

I want to caution that in current post-modern culture words need to be uses with precision. The word "influence" has the ring of an optional attempt to "influence." While among us we know that salvation is the redemptive outworking process that begins in the individual and flows out to the world that God loves, others who are steeped in the post-modern terminology might not be as discerning as we are. The outflowing redemption is not optional, it is unstoppable in the lives of Christians.

I am afraid that we have created a generation of Christians who are so content to gaze at their own "belly buttons" that they don't see a world that needs redemption. But that's the topic of another post.

Anonymous said...

Brandon,

I just want you to know that I am praying for you today for your luncheon. Tell all the fella's I said hey. I wish I could enjoy a nice sweet "Hawaiian Ribeye", but not today brother, not today.

Great blog. Like, love, need some more of 'em.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Brandon,

I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for you today in regards to your big luncheon speaking engagement. I really wish I could be there with you to share in a nice sweet "Hawaiian Ribeye". But I cannot. Give my fellow brothers a shout out for me. I heard Dever, and C.J. caught wind of this meeting and are coming to hear your thoughts. Keep up the great blogs brother, we need more of them. Keep on keepin on. I am not a fellow blogster myself. I don't have anything thing posted yet, but I will, oh, I will. You just wait. I am going to get my hands all up on some blogging.

Your dear friend,

Big Blogger Brian