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Archive for the tag “Kingdom of God”

Russell Moore: When Jesus’ priorities become our priorities

When you work for justice, and when you do it with the Gospel at the center, you’re following in the way of Christ, Russell Moore told college students at the NAE‘s Christian Student Leadership Conference this past week.

Click image to watch the video

Click image to watch the video

When Jesus’ priorities to become our priorities, believers “start caring about what it takes to cause the people around us to flourish, what it means for them to live in ways in which they are blessed rather than cursed,” Moore said.

That’s the reason why we care about the unborn when the rest of the world would want to dehumanize them by speaking of them simply as zygotes and embryos and fetuses and unplanned pregnancies. That’s the reason why we care about people who are suffering with AIDS and with other diseases. That’s why we care about women who are being trafficked. That’s why we care about immigrant communities that are suffering. That’s why we care about people who are in prison.

Some Christians worry that focusing on justice will detract from either the Gospel or mission of Jesus, and that’s a legitimate concern “because there are all sorts of people who would rather think about the common good than the Gospel,” Moore said. But “the mission of Jesus is the extension of the life of Jesus,” he said.

Jesus preaches the kingdom of God, never backs down from preaching the Gospel with Himself as the center of it. And as He does that, Jesus listens to the cries of those who are vulnerable around Him in order to work toward well-being and the common good. He preaches. He heals. He casts out demons. He feeds. He listens. He touches. He loves.

When we respond to the cries of the unborn, when we welcome the orphan, when we hold the diseased, when we in our own churches first signify to the rest of the world that no one is without value, no one is without dignity, no one is without worth, all we’re doing is by the power of the Holy Spirit being conformed into the image of Jesus so that His priorities are our priorities, His mission is our mission, and His future is our future.

Read the full text of this excellent article by Tom Strode by clicking here.

Liberal and conservative: Misguided views on the kingdom

jesus teachRussell Moore writes that Carl F. H. Henry’s 1947 book The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism “just might be the road-map for the future of American Christianity. “

From Moore to the Point:

Just after World War II, Henry, then a young rising star in the Christian firmament, issued a jarring manifesto calling for a theologically-informed and socially-engaged evangelicalism. Henry warned that American Christianity, on the Right and on the Left, was headed for irrelevance, toward being the equivalent of a wilderness cult. His agenda wasn’t simply an updating of style and presentation (although he had written a book on church publicity). The issues at root were about misguided views on the kingdom of God.

He was right. And he still is.

Henry was concerned about two fronts: detached fundamentalism and social gospel liberalism. The liberals, Henry insisted, had replaced the gospel with a political program. Instead of seeing the primary mission of the church in terms of God’s reconciling work in Christ to forgive sins, the liberals were busy grinding out policy papers on nuclear policy. Liberals saw the kingdom as a program for public righteousness, often enacted legislatively.

At the other extreme, though, Henry warned, conservatives over-reacted to the social gospel. They spoke of the kingdom of God, but acted as though it were wholly future. These conservatives embraced an otherworldly vision of salvation, that was mostly about getting souls to heaven at death. They held to an inordinately spiritual vision of the church, in which the church’s mission was about merely “spiritual” matters such as evangelism and addressing personal morality.

By severing social concerns from the gospel, the conservatives had, Henry warned, conceded these issues to liberal Protestants and, ultimately, to their more radical successors. Neither side, Henry argued, understood the “already” and “not yet” tension of the kingdom of God, a tension that was about more than how we view the last things. It is about also how we see salvation and the church.

Read the full article by clicking here.

Nov. 6 will not bring in the Kingdom of God

Jim Wallis writes at Sojourners:

Most people in America, whether they are religious or not, prefer consistency in the faith community to hypocrisy. One of the reasons the fastest growing demographic in religious affiliation surveys is now “none of the above” is that too many people see more religious hypocrisy than consistency.

Religion is not, at its core, politically partisan. But too often religion becomes a political tool; and we see that on both sides of the aisle. That does not mean people of faith shouldn’t have strong convictions or feelings about political issues or shouldn’t vote one way or another; or that there is a moral equivalency between the political parties and it doesn’t matter which way we vote. Elections are important, and people of faith should be voting as citizens and by their most basic values.

But let’s be clear: On Nov. 6, neither a Republican nor Democratic victory will bring in the Kingdom of God.

Elections can sometimes, however, set a framework for what can or can’t be done for the things we believe in. And there are important differences between the candidates at every level up and down the ballots we will cast next week. But people of faith — and their leaders — should be more prophetic than partisan during election seasons. And the moral issues we care about should be more important to us than the candidates or the parties they represent.

… With more than 2,000 verses in the Bible about poverty — and with freeing the poor and oppressed as central components of the Gospel’s “good news” — shouldn’t we consider how the election will affect the poor and oppressed? Or ask how we should treat the millions of undocumented immigrants among us, who clearly fit the biblical category of “the stranger?” In both cases, how we treat “the least of these,” Jesus says in the 25th chapter of Matthew, is how we treat him. Doesn’t our voting have something to do with that? Many of us Christians are “pro-life,” but aren’t the nearly 20,000 children around the world who die every day of utterly preventable hunger and disease just as much a “sanctity-of-life” issue as the approximately 3,000 abortions that occurred in our country today.

… Then there is the care of God’s creation, or the resolution of the world’s inevitable conflicts without the horrible failures and human costs of our endless wars. Aren’t Christians supposed to be peacemakers? We were reminded this week with the stark reality that while God created the physical world to be good, it is also dangerous. And our failure to be good stewards of that which God made is resulting in the increasing severity of storms and devastating changes of other weather patterns.

Don’t all those issues involve biblical values too?

… It’s important to have a dose of humility and recognize that we all have the capacity to be inconsistent. But let’s not use that as an excuse to remain that way. Let people see our religious consistency on the issues, not our political hypocrisy at election time by assigning ultimate biblical values to our different political choices.

Read the full article by clicking here.

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners.

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