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.