Monday, September 11, 2006

Repent the kingdom of God is here

What exactly does that mean? Well in my studies the word repent means that we are to turn from something, but not just a negative turning away, a turning from one thing to another. In this case the assumption is, turn from the kingdoms you are currently in, to the kingdom of God. Now let us remember this was spoken of in a time of kings, and empires. So this message really packed a punch. But we can over spiritualize this and say that it only applies to our own rulership. I need to give up my own rulership and accept God's rulership. Now this is truly what this verse means! But it means more than that!!! It means turn from any and all kingdoms and accept God alone as the ruler. This means the kingdoms of the world, the kingdoms of the political powers, the kingdom of the economy the kingdoms of culture. We must turn from them all and receive the rulership of God, and infact bring that into this earth. This is what we pray when we say, "thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.

Now my contention is that somewhere along the line, we have rejected this command. We have not only rejected God as our ruler, but have set up another kingdom. The kingdoms of the church. We have found being ruled, and trusting the rule of the creator of the universe a daunting, and to be honest frightening task, so we have created a kingdom in His name, to help us feel more secure.

Now this is a very harsh thing to say, but lets take a closer look:

What do kingdoms do?

They create structures to protect, educate and control the people. In some cases they have a document, that has been ratified and accepted as the proper way to rule and govern, and call these constitutions, that provide a way to keep even the leaders in line. And they have special people that study these constitutions and make sure they are never broken. They have special people that are "qualified" to carry out the rule of the kingdom. They are often very capable, and qualified men, often very charismatic. They in some cases are elected, in other cases appointed, and in some cases inherit positions. And special people that enforce their rule. And they call these people public "servants". They create borders, if you are inside this border you are part of the kingdom, if you are outside you are not. They create armies of people to protect these borders, and to expel those that do not follow the dictates of the rulers. They have people that create propaganda to further the agenda of the kingdom, and they have others that are enlisted to battle against the "enemies" of the kingdom. They provide services for the people in the kingdom, they prepare roads, provide for the needy, educate those in the kingdom. And ofcourse all of the services and servants cost money so they charge a tax, a percentage of your income, in order to pay for all of these good things. They sing special songs and anthems about the kingdom. They have special days to celebrate the important days and people of the kingdom. They have special books, pledges, and covenents. I am sure this is sounding familiar. We have created new kingdoms, and these try to be the kingdom of God, but they are not.

Now I have been told I am advocating lawlessness. But I am not, I am advocating responsibility, and community, and the rulership of God. But who is to control things and keep them from getting out of line? Well seeing that a church able to even have people put to death wasn't able to curtail desent, I will just trust God to deal with it. What I am advocating for the people of God to return to the grass roots, diverse movement of our history. To relational authority. To an upside down kingdom that gives up power rather than protects it. That opens its borders rather than protects them. That actually requires of people that they leave the kingdoms of this world, and gives them no new kingdom in return, but allows God's rulership to take place.

Turn from the false kingdoms, and accept the only true king, Jesus the Christ.

rev

24 comments:

David said...

Get real, Rev. Where has this "kingdom of God" ever been achieved?

Do you ever think of the practicality of your ivory tower spiritual idealism?

What structures would protect, educate and control people in God's kingdom? The Holy Spirit? Well, the Holy Spirit doesn't seem done a good job wherever his influence has been claimed. Whatever structures they are, I know one thing about them - they will be run by people. People who have confused and contradictory understandings of whatever it is the kingdom of God is supposed to look like. The people will fight with each other and splinter off into different groups. Far from being some sort of beautiful, loving, pious and holy realisation, what you will end up with is people facing reality and saying, "Oh, it must mean some internalised change within - the world will still function in the same corrupt way as before".

I think you message goes in the same category as John Lennon's "Imagine" song, except you have one more imaginary concept.

The Rev said...

you obviously don't understand the point I was making. Nor do you ever propose anything yourself, you sit back and mock others. Maybe someday you will be secure enough in your self to actually say something of substance about your own thoughts or beliefs rather than ridiculing the ideals and visions of others. But I seriously doubt it.

rev

geoff said...

It certainly is a lofty goal. And to actually throw off my own preconceptions is a sacrifice I'm rarely willing to make. Especially when it means letting go of power. But it's the idealism, and the excitement of that picture of the Kingdom that does spur you on. An upside-down kingdom. I love it!

david said...

I know I sound critical, cynical and negative. Rev, you should look at criticism as an opportunity to improve and refine your message.

Your message started well with an appealing dose of idealism, but fizzled out with a hand-waving approach to practice (let God guide us sort-of-thing).

Why do you not consider how God's kingdom would look and operate in practice? A lot of christians (and people of other faiths) retreat into the personal side of faith with meditation and local-scale good works.

Nowhere have we seen how the kingdom of God would operate on the bigger social scale, or indeed, regionally or nationally. You can hand-wave and say that God will lead people down the correct path. But that never happens. And never will. There is no universal, clear, unambiguous message from God. Never was. Never will be.

What you can't do is point out historical cases of where the kingdom of God has been realised on a large enough scale to have political and social impact.

Your airy-fairy, idealist, jesus-the-radical kingdom of God is just that - an unrealistic dream.

The Rev said...

there is nothing airy fairy about my life you condescending little man. I have people in my community that are walking this ideal out as we speak, people from my church are selling their homes so they can live in greater proximity to the marginalized, stretching themselves financially so we can take in foster children and asylum seekers, and mentally ill people. Volunteering to work in prison with sex offenders. It is very practical, just very hard, and most people like yourself, would rather sit back and condemn and criticize rather than sacrifice their own precious lifestyle in order to see it come to practice. But go ahead and sit on the outside and scoff, your pathetic mockery is annoying, but does not hinder us from living a life fulfilling, and practical.

As to examples in the past: The early church toppled Rome with no government or army. I can point to the early methodists in England and the United States, I can point to the waiters union in Brisbane, I can point to Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King jr in America. All evidence that non violent, commitment to following Jesus example can break down walls of oppression.

Again i will simply say, it is very practical, yet very hard. In the words of G K Chesterton, Christianity has not been tried and found lacking, but found difficult and left untried.

rev

david said...

What has all that got to do with the kingdom of God, as opposed to your view of it? I suppose you think the tremendous self-sacrifice on the part of the people in your community mean the world is going to be a better place. Maybe you'll make some isolated improvements here and there. But at what personal cost? Isn't it better to use the taxation system and other established institutions of government and large charitable organisations (e.g. Salvos, Hillsong Church, Vinnies, Oxfam, etc).

Isn't it a more reasonable and fairer system to allow the government to provide safety nets for these people - mentally ill, sick, unemployed - and distribute the cost over many tax-payers. Rather than expect a few good samaritans like yourself to sacrifice all? This in addition to people giving to large organisations.

Obviously the combined effort of large organisations and good samaritans such as yourself can be combined to great effect.

But what makes you think you have some kind of special spiritual insight into the kingdom of God? What makes you think you are exemplifying its practice?

The Rev said...

Tell me David, have you ever heard of Gandhi? He toppled a government with just his own self sacrifice, and commitment to the path of Jesus.

So far the governements have accomplished the creation of so much red tape and infrastructure that a tiny fraction of what is given to the poor actually gets to them. In addition, the poor and the marginalised need much more than just money and health care, they need community support.

When my schizophrenic friend went off his meds and completely lost it, there was no government agency that was going to his home at 4am on Christmas morning, it was me.

rev

Daniel said...

That's good rev.

We know that the kingdom of heaven will not be fully obvious until Christ returns, but in the meantime - we need to behave as though it is at hand.

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. It starts off as the smallest of seeds (one person at a time living the ideals of the kingdom - Living as though Christ is King), and it ends up as the largest tree in the garden.

david said...

Are you sure JC hasn't already returned, collected the 3 true christians on the planet, and disappeared again?

You don't really know do you? You think that you're a true follower of Jesus, but I reckon you're just as hell-bound as the rest of us.

What proof do you have that you are part of the kingdom of God or you are working to bring it about?

Just because you look after a few homeless pricks? Just because you can't get off your fat arse and do some real work for a change, instead helping some psycho take his pills?

The Rev said...

David,

If you continue your ad hominim attacks, and your juvenile trolling and shit stirring I will simply delete all of your posts, stop acting like a dickhead or leave, I did not start this site to argue with lonely insecure little man.

rev

Rebecca said...

David, you're being a tool.

However, you unfortunately have some interesting points. Rev, I too am curious as to what you consider God's kingdom would look like and how it would operate in practice. I mean, beyond the selling homes and living with people stuff. On what scale does this occur, how is society organised?

This isn't a dig - I'm genuinely curious! When David says "Maybe you'll make some isolated improvements here and there", he's repeating a question/statement I've had levelled at me many times before (and to be honest, I'm not sure I have any answers for it!)

The Rev said...

true change occurs when individuals are transformed, and then pass this on to others. So the need to regulate and control is not there. If people see the good a small community of likeminded people can do, it will inspire them to do the same. In this way one very small group of people can have an enormous impact.

Kinda like Jesus and those twelve losers he hung out with instead of having a real job.

This doesn't mean that we cannot coalesce for reasons of general help and large scale relief efforts.

rev

The Rev said...

David, go somewhere else with your bullshit, thank you. If you want to really talk you have my email.

rev

david said...

I've levelled some valid criticism, asked some questions that you can't answer.

Instead of being sidetracked by the shit, why not respond to the real message?

I think it is because you have no answers. Just regurgitated spiritual rubbish with a "hippy radical" veneer.

Now delete this comment, you little turd. And time for me to fuck off for good.

The Rev said...

It shows your quality that you would rather be an asshole than actually converse. Go be an asshole somewhere else, your criticisms and questions have been dealt with on some level, and I would happily address them further, but not while you are behaving like a jackass. So go ahead and run away thinking you have achieved some victory, when in fact you have just been a jerk and no one wants to play with you.

and I am far from little, though a turd I may be.

rev

Gods_Rhema said...

Thats a great post Rev..very insightful.

Dont bother reacting to rubbish though this gentleman will be taught by the real world he lives in..

Cricket training has started dude...get spinning!!

Rebecca said...

hey rev, you're letting him get to you. ;)

David, forgive me, but I find it utterly laughable that you would accuse someone else of being sidetracked by the shit. Grow up, man. What's your problem? You claim to think Christianity's a load of crap yet you spend an inordinate amount of time harassing Christians. The real, committed, convinced atheists I know are capable of engaging in decent, mutually respectful conversation with me. If you really want to ask questions, then ask them - don't hide them beneath insults and angry rhetoric. If all you want to do is harass people, then I truly pity you.

Rev - I totally agree re: transformation of the individual, and passing that on - but it's also kinda individualistic. I don't really have the words for it, but I'm convinced that there's space for reform of social systems, which will then transform individuals. We shape our social systems, but they also shape us. Or not??

The Rev said...

Yeah Bec, social structures are reformed as people are reformed, and vice versa. What happens though is people try and create structures that "enable" them to help more people. This seemingly good idea by its very nature must in some level make things less relational. Less relational means less human compassion. This brings about a dehumanizing effect. The poor need more than health care and living expenses, they need community, like we do. When compassion becomes a job, it gets weird and power dynamics become more pronounced. So we reform structures by following a relational and powerless structure.

rev

Gods_Rhema said...

So very true Rev..just what I needed to hear at this present turn in my life.
I used to live on the streets and am spending more time with people still there mate..just talking "where" they are at not where they "are" going.

Rebecca said...

Rev, I agree with that entirely, but it's not always so easy or practical to follow. For example, I think aid and development NGOs are vital. Many of those I've been involved with strive to be grassroots, non-hierarchical, and relational, but the funding system is often set up in such a way that this mode of operation can come into conflict with it. I think that some arguments can be made in favour of professionalism, hierarchies etc if they help sustain your work. But being relational is still my ideal.

Am thinking about this quite a bit at the moment because I've had some really interesting conversations with people grappling with this issue...

david said...

Yes, I know. But here is my last comment, for what it's worth.

Consider the following graphical representation of as a way of thinking about relational structures vs authoritarian (or power-based) structures and how they would operate on various sized groups of people.

Draw a graph: The horizontal axis representing the transition from authoritarian operation on the left to relational on the right. The vertical axis representing small groups at the bottom, increasing to large groups at the top of the page. (Get you pen out and draw this).

Think about the four quadrants of this graph: Lower Left (LL) = authoritarian and small; Upper Left (UL) = authoritarian and large group; Lower Right (LR) = relational and small group; Upper Right (UR) = relational and large group.

Put the following labels on the quadrants: LL = dysfunctional; UL = bureaucracy; LR = family; UR = Perfect World

A natural transition is the diagonal line from LR to UL. This represents a general rule that as the size of a social/work group grows, the number of administrative rules tends to increase leading to the growth of bureaucratic power structures at the expense of the relational.

The diagnonal line from LL to UR could represent the disadvantaged and marginalised in society responding to the promise of an ideal world portrayed by various faiths.

Each of these diagonal lines could also represent two very different world views.

The Rev said...

I believe the upper right doesn't have to be a utopia, and therefore pie in the sky impractical. It can and has functioned in medium sized groups. I know it will never work on a world wide scale, but the day we stop fighting for a better system, is the day we settle for John Howard and George W

rev

Rebecca said...

Rev, that (post above) is what I was trying to ask.

I think it can work on a world-wide scale, but that there'd be costs to it - ie. at the cost of globalisation, globalism, cosmopolitanism etc, with a rise in parochialism...There'd also be lots of upsides too, though (I've always been very attracted to ecoregionalism, for example)

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

Egads! How many parting comments can he leave? And how long before he's back with a new name?

As one who spent years debating with John, he's quite up to it when it's an actual debate with a mature person who respects the debate.

If you don't respect John, at all, then why bother. It's just taunting the monkeys at the zoo, yes?
And it probably is time for John to stop taunting this monkey (or responding to the monkey's taunts.)

This blog is not run as a democracy, but I would put in a vote to just delete the little boy's post immediately here on out.