8 INFORMATION ON HOW TO GO TO HEAVEN AFTER YOU DIE Our contemporary gospel is primarilyINFORMATION ONHOW TO GO TO HEAVENAFTER YOU DIEwith a large footnote about increasing your personal happiness and success through God.with a small footnote about character developmentwith a smaller footnote about spiritual experiencewith a smaller footnote about social/global transformation.
9 selfchurchworldA gospel of self-enhancement and sin management in this life and the next…
10 Dallas Willard calls the dominant understanding “the gospel of sin management.” The purpose of the gospel is to answer these questions: What do we do about original sin? How do we go to heaven after we die?In a footnote hidden away in the back of “The Divine Conspiracy,” he adds ...
11 that the gospel of sin management produces “vampire Christians” who want Jesus for his blood and little else.
12 selfchurchworldA gospel of self-enhancement and sin management in this life and the next…
17 Gospel of saving earth* from human sin, beginning with us. Gospel of saving individual souls from hell, and abandoning earth to destruction.Gospel of saving earth* from human sin, beginning with us.*Including individualsTwo Gospels:
18 Personal transformation is the starting point but not the end point. We are “blessed to be a blessing” …Changed to be agents of changeHealed to heal othersTransformed to transform the world.
19 A friend’s mission statement: Reaching Christians for Christ, beginning with myself.Why would that kind of mission statement be needed?We need to be reached with the gospel of Jesus: the gospel of the kingdom of God.
20 Remember: Kingdoms (or Empires) were contemporary realities in Jesus’ day!
21 Too few people realize the radical nature of the message of the Kingdom of God. There are 2 main reasons for this misunderstanding.
22 The Matthew Problem:Many think “kingdom of God” means heaven (after you die).Why do Mark and Luke say “Kingdom of God,” but Matthew says “Kingdom of Heaven?”
23 As the most Jewish gospel … Matthew follows the Jewish reticence about using the name of God directly. “Heaven” substitutes for God.
24 It is clear that “kingdom of God” (or heaven) does NOT mean “heaven after you die,” because the Lord’s prayer teaches us to pray …
25 Your kingdom come.Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
26 It does NOT teach us to pray … May we come to your kingdom when we die.May we all go to heaven where, unlike earth, your will is done.
27 2. The John Problem:John uses “kingdom” only in chapters 3 and 18. Elsewhere, he uses the phrase “life” - life to the full, or eternal life.But it is also clear that “eternal life” doesn’t simply mean “life in heaven after you die,” contrary to popular opinion.
28 Eternal life is defined by Jesus clearly in John 17:3 - Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
29 To know means “to live in an interactive relationship.” If we know one another, we interact with one another in a relationship.
30 The phrase “eternal” literally means “of the ages.” (zoein aionian) It means life above the present age and regime, “life on a higher plane,” life above the mundane, life that is part of what God is doing across time.True, that life doesn’t end at physical death - but neither does it begin there!
31 So … what is the kingdom of God? It is a life lived in a network of interactive relationships …With God as KingWith other citizens, creaturesWith the territory or landWith other kingdoms
32 It is a matter BOTH of personal transformation AND of social transformation. Jesus says,The time has come!The kingdom of God has come near!Repent and believe the good news!
33 The gospel of sin management and earth-abandonment produces institutional believers (Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Catholics, etc.) who adhere to a system of belief and a structure of religion - but ultimately support the status quo.The gospel of the kingdom must produce disciples who learn a radical new way of life and participate in the transformation of the world.
34 Personal transformation …until Christ is formed in you Personal transformation …until Christ is formed in you. (Galatians 4:19)
35 Global transformation …the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord... (Revelation 11:15)
36 So personal transformation is not the end point. We are “blessed to be a blessing” …Changed to be agents of changeHealed to heal othersTransformed to transform the world.
37 Transformed disciples transform their world: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
38 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
39 Salt of the earth …Light of the world …Light to everyone …Jesus is calling his followers to re-inhabit the original calling of Abraham … a light to all nations … bringing out the whole world’s potential for beauty and fruitfulness.
40 Salt of the earth …Light of the world …Light to everyone …This is inherently and unavoidably a political calling.
41 What is the church in relation to these two gospels? A warehouse to store a growing inventory of souls awaiting their final shipment to heaven: Mission: Increase inventory, protect from spoilage, damage, wastage, theft.
42 What is the church in relation to these two gospels? A warehouse to store a growing inventory of souls awaiting their final shipment to heaven. Mission: Increase inventory, protect from spoilage, damage, wastage, theft.2. A community of spiritual formation. Mission: Train people to be agents of the kingdom of God who live in the way of Jesus and bring healing and transformation to the world (tikkun olam).
43 PROBLEM 3: WE WANT TO BE BOTH PROPHETIC AND PASTORAL (PRIESTLY) - WE WANT TO FEED THE FLOCK WITHOUT DIVIDING AND SCATTERING IT …(and without violating tax exempt status!)
44 DOING SO REQUIRES US TO BE WISE AS SERPENTS AND INNOCENT AS DOVES …
45 To those under the law I became like one under the law … so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law … so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel…. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
46 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view…. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)
47 COMPLEXIFY DUALISMS AND BIPOLARTIES … There aren’t just 2! Secular Left vs. Religious RightSecular Left vs. Secular RightReligious Right vs. Religious LeftSecular Right vs. Secular LeftSecular Right vs. Religious Left… etc.Then add “Corporatist vs. Populist,” “Nationalist vs. Globalist,” “Modern vs. Postmodern,” “Colonial vs. Post-colonial,” or “Globalist versus Localist,” etc., to previous bipolarities.
59 PROBLEM 4: WE MUST TEACH WHAT JESUS TAUGHT IN THE MANNER JESUS TAUGHT IT … (NOT IN THE MORE FAMILIAR MANNER OF TODAY’S SCRIBES AND PHARISEES/SADDUCEES AND HERODIANS…)
60 1. We must stop answering questions that are framed badly 1. We must stop answering questions that are framed badly. When Jesus was asked a trick question by representatives of a conservative religio-political party of his day, he didn’t fall for the trap (Luke 20). Rather, he showed how the question was based on false assumptions and used the trick question as an opportunity to expose those false assumptions and instruct the questioners.
61 2. We must start raising new questions and issues that need to be raised. When Jesus was being tested in another politico-religious interview, he refused to answer the question of whether taxes should be paid to Caesar or not (Matthew 22:27 ff.). In fact, he cleverly deconstructed and neutered the question and instead pushed another question to the surface: were those asking the question willing to render to God what is God’s?
62 3. We must answer questions with questions 3. We must answer questions with questions. Some opponents asked Jesus a trick question for which there was no good answer; rather than falling into their trap, he said he would answer their question if they answered a similarly difficult question (Luke 20:1-8).
63 4. We must go cleverly deeper 4. We must go cleverly deeper. In Jesus’ day, there was plenty of debate over divorce, with clear “liberal” and “conservative” polarities. Jesus rose to a deeper level of discourse by dealing with the issue of motives: were men seeking legal divorces to indulge their lustful desires, trading in their old wife on a sexy younger model – but doing so according to the rules (Matthew 19)? He exposed the lustful intentions of their hearts on the deeper level rather than merely taking a position on the surface level. Paul did something similar on the controversial question of eating meat sacrificed to idols in his day: it’s the motive that is more important than the policy, he said (Romans 14).
64 5. We must agree with people whenever we can 5. We must agree with people whenever we can. Survey the gospels and notice how often Jesus said, “You have answered wisely” (for example, see John 4:17 or Luke 10:28). Similarly, we must agree with both conservatives and liberals whenever we can. Conservatives are right, for example, when they affirm the importance of good business in lifting people from poverty. Liberals are also right when they affirm the role of government in not trusting business to always behave well. Conservatives are right that personal sexual integrity really matters; liberals are right when they say there is more to morality than personal sexual integrity. Both are right in many ways, but both are wrong when they blame the other for “all our problems.” Both are wrong when they think the thing they’re against is the only danger worth fighting. We’ll help them see what they don’t yet see when we agree that we see what they do see.
66 6. We must speak through action, not just words 6. We must speak through action, not just words. When Jesus sought to confront people for their hypocrisy and misplaced priorities, he didn’t argue; instead, he healed a man on the Sabbath. This created a stir that made his point more than any number of well-reasoned arguments could have. So, what we do for those suffering in Darfur or Congo may speak more eloquently than anything we say about domestic issues; how we treat our critics privately may speak more loudly to them than what we say in public.
67 7. We must tell stories and create drama 7. We must tell stories and create drama. While dining at the house of a Pharisee, Jesus was honored by a woman of ill repute (Luke 7). When the host and guests began judging him for his failure to adequately judge her, Jesus told a story about economics, debt, and forgiveness. The story abducted the imagination of the critics and transported them to a new vantage point. Then Jesus dramatized his message in his interaction with her.
68 Now these approaches didn’t help Jesus be well-liked by the counterparts of Limbaugh and Carville in his day. In fact, they heated up the hot water he was in even more, and ultimately he was rejected by both polarities. But Jesus’ ways of responding to the religio-political debates of his day did something more powerful and important than making Jesus popular: they got both sides thinking and they assured that God’s higher perspective was given a place in debates that generally missed the point.
69 Jesus’ rhetorical strategies made Jesus something far more valuable than a bridge between “left and right.” They showed him to be more than a bridge – maybe more like a ladder, by which both left and right could rise to higher ground, and common ground – a place where they can come to God, and to God’s truth – and in that truth, find one another. That, I hope, can be our higher calling today in these divisive, polarized times. May God help us.?
72 Our Father, above us and all around us … May your unspeakable Name be revered.Now, here on earth may your kingdom come …On earth, as in heaven, may your will be done.
73 For the kingdom is yours and yours alone, Give us today our bread for today.Forgive us our wrongs as we forgive those who wrong us.Lead us away from the perilous trial,But liberate us from the evil.For the kingdom is yours and yours alone,the power is yours and yours alone,the glory is yours and yours alone,Now and forever. Amen.