Living Now in the Kingdom of God

Through Jesus, we have been completely reconciled to God without religion (any system of rules, regulations, rituals or routines to get right with God, or to 'measure up' to a standard) so that we can be so fully loved and secure in our friendship with God that we are freed to be fully other-centered in serving those that need the most help – spiritually, materially, socially. - Tim Day, 2007 Vision and Values, The Meeting House

We need to let go of the lie that in order to love our neighbours, we need to learn how to love ourselves - only a self-serving, materialistic culture like ours could propagate such a lie with such effectiveness. Living as a part of this culture - this system- makes it hard to recognize the obvious and subtle ways the lie works itself out in our lives.

Here are a few ...

1. By virtue of where we live, we participate in an economic system that relies on consumerism - which is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts.

2. We are encouraged to chase a way of life that ultimately leaves the poor 'hand-to-mouth' and the rich 'hand-in-mouth'. Neither of these extremes are helpful. In the last 50 years, the disparity between rich and poor has grown 4 fold across the world. The result has been that the rich grow in fear of the poor, and try all the harder to secure their wealth; and the poor grow in resentment of the rich.

3. We are encouraged to 'give to the poor' - but this rarely goes beyond giving hand-outs, which can perpetuate or even worsen poverty. We are never, if rarely encouraged to build actual relationships and bridges with those in other social classes or spiritual persuasions.

4. Self-made people are highly valued in our society - this perpetuates our desire to 'go it alone' and try to work through our problems alone instead of seeking and relying on a community of friends with whom we can not only suffer with, but also put lean against, filling in the gaps of our weaknesses with their strengths and visa versa.

5. We are taught from a young age to value comfort and the pursuit of happiness above all else. It frames the course of our entire lives. Most of us spend so much time trying to avoid pain that we forget how to find God and each other in the midst of the pain and suffering in our own lives and the lives of those around us.

God has not given us the free gift of salvation just so that we can sing songs, study the Bible and come together once a week to celebrate. If this is it for us, then we are missing something integral ...

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+2&version=NIV

"He has shown you what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Micah+6%3A8&version=NIV

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+1%3A27&version=NIV

0 comments:

Copyright © 2013 Think Theos