The Simple Kingdom: Keeping the Mission Simple...Personally and CorporatelyWednesday, February 23, 2011
The simplicity of the kingdom of God is found in texts like John 17:3 where, in the real "Lord's Prayer" we find Jesus praying these words:
"And this is the way to eternal life - to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth" (NLT).
That makes the mission pretty simple, I'd say. Really simple. If the way to eternal life is simply knowing the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, then I wonder what the Christian life would look like with one thing on the "radar".
The Simple Kingdom Mission in My Personal Life
My personal devotion and worship times (a.k.a. "Quiet Times") would finally have a focus. My mission would simply be to read the Bible with the goal of knowing the Father and the Son. Everything I read would ask these questions:
- What am I seeing about the Father in this text? What is He like? What does He do to show what He is like? (The "stuff" God the Father does is always done in order to reveal Who He really is to people.)
- What is the Father telling me about Himself? He is talking to me, after all. If I'm reading about the Father in the Old Testament, I'll want to see Him in person in the New Testament, since Jesus told me that He was essentially just like the Father. If I'm reading about the Father in the New Testament, I'll want to see what all He did in the Old Testament to lead up to what I'm reading in the New.
- What am I seeing about Jesus Christ in this text? What is He like? What does He do to show what He is like? (The "stuff" God the Son does is always done in order to reveal Who the Father really is to people.)
- What is Jesus telling me about Himself? His Spirit is talking to me, after all.
- What does the Bible text I'm reading say about His character? That's what the name YHWH means..."I AM"...it is a name that reveals His character through His actions and behavior.
- What does the Bible text I'm reading say about His promises? He is a promise-making and promise-keeping God, in almost every single book of the Bible. Everything I read there is either about a promise He is about to make, or else about how He is keeping a promise He has already made. It really is that simple...especially in the Old Testament.
And how about my prayer life? If my mission is simply to pray with the goal of knowing the Father and the Son, then my prayer life would have to emphasize some of these elements:
- Asking the Holy Spirit to fill me...the Spirit of Christ...the Spirit of the Father...so that I can have the eyes of my heart opened and my mind enlightened, in order to make it possible for me to know the Father and the Son.
- Praying the "Lord's Prayer"...the one in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. In that prayer Jesus teaches us who the Father is by showing us what He wants to give us: Himself, His kingdom, His will, His provisions, and His protection. That's pretty simple, eh?
- Praying for the Father to talk to me...to tell me I am His own adopted child...to tell me how much He loves me.
- Praying for the Son to talk to me...to tell me I am His brother...to tell me how much He loved and loves me.
- Singing to the Father and Son, through the filling of His Spirit...even asking Him to give me new and fresh songs so my heart has some release of all the grace He's pouring inside of me.
- Speaking in tongues, through the filling of the Spirit...realizing that my native tongue sometimes just isn't enough to praise and worship the Father and the Son.
The Simple Kingdom Mission in my Corporate Life
Knowing the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, makes my mission pretty simple, doesn't it? Not only does it simplify my personal mission (Know God!), but also my corporate mission, as a part of a local church. If the personal mission of knowing the Father and the Son moves to the corporate level, then a bunch of persons who are knowing the Father and the Son come together to advance the same mission, but on a grander scale. What does that look like?
Jesus said in the last half of the same prayer,
"I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one - as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me...I am in them, and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me" (John 17:20-23, NLT).
Pursuing a personal mission of knowing the Father and the Son leads a group of persons...all of whom have the same mission...all of whom are pursuing that same mission...to gather together and carry out that mission on a much grander scale...a global-sized scale. Simply knowing the Father and the Son leads a group of persons like this to love each other so fervently that the world will be convinced of what these people believe in.
The simple kingdom is advanced along the rails of personal worship and corporate worship...knowing the Father and the Son personally (and in ever-increasing fashion), as well as knowing the Father and the Son corporately (again, in ever-increasing fashion). If we pursue the simple mission on our own, using the Word of God and communing with God, then there is no stopping that group of people when they gather together and decide on doing something for the kingdom.