Thursday, August 23, 2007

Adventurers for the Kingdom of Light

To be alive means to be on an adventure. Not necessarily an adventure like Bilbo’s in The Hobbit, Han Solo’s in Star Wars, or Bruce Wayne’s as Batman. The adventure through which we discover life is living on the edge between two kingdoms: light and dark.

Consider what Erwin McManus wrote in Seizing Your Divine Moment:
I don’t know what it means for others, but for a follower of Jesus Christ, what it means to live on the edge is to stand at the epicenter of where the kingdom of God confronts the kingdom of darkness. When evil raises its ugly head, taunting God and tormenting the weak, the adventurer rises up and moves toward the challenge. Like a guided missile, the adventurous spirit moves toward its greatest challenge. (p. 159)
Sadly Christians have usually interpreted this to mean we are to fight the fight of correct doctrine and morality. In the process we have missed the bigger battle, the fight against the kingdom of darkness as it oppresses people. Yes, there is a time when we need to fight to preserve correct doctrine and to remind people of the difference between right and wrong.

The reality is that in doing so we often attack the same people who are being attacked by the darkness. In other words the Church needs to become more “social” in the fight it is fighting. We need to show more concern for the pregnant teenager, rather than just declaring abortion evil. We need to be more concerned about the quality and equality of education rather than just being caught up in the evolution/creation debate. We need to seek to help the poor rather than just calling for welfare reform. The kingdom of darkness oppresses millions of people and rather than living a life of adventure to rescue them we stay home shout to the world about how evil they are.

The theme of Jesus’ preaching centered around the Kingdom of God.
14 Now after John had been arrested, Jesus went to Galilee and proclaimed the gospel about the kingdom of God. 15 He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is near! Repent, and keep believing in the gospel!” (Mark 1:14-15; ISV)
One of the concepts behind the word repent is the idea of defection. When we repent and trust Jesus we sever ties with the the kingdom of darkness and give our loyalties to God’s Kingdom. If our loyalties are with God then we will give our lives away to what He declares is important. We will continue to live out Jesus’ mission:
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; (Isaiah 61:1; ESV)
In other words we will confront the kingdom of darkness and usher in the Kingdom of Light. Here is an example of how Jesus did this during his time on earth:
When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the stalls of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from bringing in merchandise. He taught them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves,” (Mark 11:15-7; NLT).
There are two reasons why Jesus cleared the Temple. One is that the merchants were taking advantage of the poor. Their prices for animals to be sacrificed were extremely high, and since sacrifices were required, the poor had to pay these high prices.

Another reason, one often missed, is that the place which was used for this market was the space where both Jews and Gentiles could come to pray. By setting up this market the Jews were squeezing out the Gentiles, for this was the only part of the Temple they could go to. Not only were the poor taken advantage of, but the Gentiles were also being disregarded.

Jesus steps into this time in history and he confronts what the oppression the kingdom of darkness has put on people. He chases out the animals and the money changers and teaches them that these activities are not part of God’s kingdom. People were being oppressed, and that made Jesus angry.

I believe we don’t get angry enough when oppression occurs around us. We believe that is just the way things are or that we cannot do anything about it. What we learn from the heroic characters from the stories we love is that they challenge the forces of evil even though the odds are greatly against them. Ultimately it is not about whether we win or lose, but whether or not we are going to go on the adventure God has put before us. Will we live a life of faith or will we seek safety. A life of faith will not guarantee safety.

Life is found in the adventure of faith. Are you living on the edge? Are you willing to take up the fight for the kingdom of light against the kingdom of darkness? That is where Jesus is leading, and only there will we find the life we desire.

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