Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Kingdom of God: Are We Following Christ? Or Christianity?

... Can we hear it?
Martin Bashir, in a recent interview with Mars Hill Church's "superpastor," Rob Bell, helped to ignite a seemingly literal firestorm within the Christian community. In his new book, Love Wins, Bell attempts to shed some light on the concepts of Heaven and Hell. Naturally, this is a very sensitive topic, and one that, even though most Christians will call me a heretic for saying it, is rather unknowable by us who still reside among the living. What of those who never hear the Gospel? Or those who are abused by the Church? Who are we to claim we know their fates?

It's sad, is it not? Christ's followers now seem to believe theology is of utmost importance. For many adherents, doctrinal creeds are never to be erred from. The words of pastors become the very words of God for many, and the Bible is largely underrepresented by the contextualizations presented by these pastors.

I see no place in the Bible where we Christians are called to have correct theology. I see no command from God to develop a 100% correct doctrine. What I do see, however, are directives on how to be God's hands and feet to the masses. We are called to love God, and we are called to love other people. We are called to trust in Christ's sacrifice as the end-all to our sinful nature. By embracing the forgiveness of Christ, we are given new hearts where the Spirit dwells. These new hearts, new selves, even, allow for the love of Christ to be manifest in our daily walk. To show the love of Christ, the ultimate letting-go of the selfish habits that so taint our relationships and our thought processes, is what Jesus begs from His people in the Gospels. Jesus tells of a new kingdom, one that contradicts the popular concept of "Empire"," a "Kingdom of God," that has come upon this planet. And we, His self-proclaimed people, have become as the Pharisees, safe and comfortable within our own theologies.

After His "Parable of the Father with Two Sons," Jesus rebukes the chief priests and the "holy elite," saying to them "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. (Matt. 21:31b)" He says the "sinners" are getting it. They are doing as God told them to, just as the first son did as his father asked of him. The second son is, as ashamed as I am to admit it, me. It is me, many of my friends, most of my acquaintances, and an astounding representation of the Church. The second son says he will go, but does not... Just as we claim to "believe the right beliefs" but we never practice what Jesus actually said to do!

I have to ask the question of all of you today: If there were no Heaven or Hell (there are, hypothetical question), would you still choose to follow Christ? Is the life that He calls us to worth it? Or has "Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven" become a stale repetition that we "believe" yet do nothing about?

Jesus once said that He had "Not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. (Matt. 5:17)" In Galatians, Paul claims "the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. (Galatians 5:14)” Why don't we do our best to, instead of unabashedly decrying others as heretics, instead enter in to thoughtful debate? Instead of killing, ridiculing, and ostracizing others in the name of "Correct Doctrine," why don't we instead love others COMPLETELY and UNCONDITIONALLY, just as Christ did for us... Folks... Bring the Kingdom... If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ... "Do not judge, that ye be not judged. (Matt. 5:1 KJV)"


1 comment:

  1. Troy...Good words...I have learned the hard way that argument does not accomplish much if anything. What I do reveals what I believe regardless of what I say I believe. To do what Jesus did brings huge reward...primarily knowing I have done what Jesus said my purpose in life was about. Accomplishing the right purpose (not any purpose) brings some strong contentment and certainty. Yes, I would follow Jesus regardless of what other "belief" conditions were imposed.