I blogged about certain books I am reading (and recommending) for 2017. One of the books is 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni. In it, Lencioni says families need a "rallying cry".
Every family needs a single, agreed-upon top priority, something it can rally around for unity and maximum impact.
In scripture, the church is known as a family or household (John 1:12; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Timothy 3:15). We are in His family, members of Christ's body and a part of one another. And this year our family has this as its rallying cry: The Kingdom of the Heavens is here and now!
Here & Now
After 400 years of silence during the period of Malachi and Matthew (in between the Old and New Testaments), God speaks. And He does so emphatically through His Son, Jesus - the only-begotten Son of God... God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God. Jesus has an announcement in Matthew 4:17: "Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand". His Kingdom, the King's domain, is available here and now. The Sovereign rule of Heaven has come to birth on Earth. The Kingdom is both the present spiritual reign of God and the future realm over which Christ will rule with power and glory. It is the very activity of God coming to Earth and made available to all. Check out this 2 minute clip from N.T. Wright on the Kingdom. It is so helpful to understanding the Kingdom.
What we believe this means for us is that we are going to pursue His Kingdom. Think about what you would do if your beloved iPhone were lost. In all likelihood you would seek it until it was found (my preccioussss). Likewise, we are seeking His will (where what God wants done is done), His presence (the one thing that has marked His people throughout time) and His power (the very life of Christ made available to the needs of mankind) until they are found.
Go & Proclaim
In Matthew 10:7-9, Jesus sends His disciples out on a trial run of the mission to come. After giving the greatest sermon of all time that would ultimately upend the world (Matthew 5-7), healing everyone (Matthew 4-9) and teaching the disciples to pray "Thy kingdom come and Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven," He sent them out to go & proclaim what God is like. And Jesus' commission along with the Lord's Prayer shows us that this isn't a nice phrase to help you pray or a mantra to make you feel better, but rather "Thy Kingdom come" is the rallying cry that moves us to action.
When the Kingdom is manifest and the people of God go and actually proclaim what He is like, then restoration is a natural result. And this is where our thinking has to shift - He longs to bring restoration or palingenesia (Matthew 19:28). At the "renewal of all things," when Christ returns, He will (palin) again (genesis) form what was lost in the garden of Eden. Let me have my good friend, Tim Keller, articulate what I am trying to say. In The Reason for God, Tim (can I call you Tim?) says this of Jesus' return:
Jesus insisted that His bodily return will be with such power that the very material world and universe will be purged of all decay and brokenness. All will be healed all might-have-beens will be. The Biblical view of things is resurrection – not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you have always wanted. This means that every horrible thing that has ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater.
Rallying Cry #1
Amen, yes! At the end of our prayers, we usually say “amen”. Amen means so be it and yes - I agree! Everything in my heart longs for this for our body - unity, agreement, wholeness. I long for our church to cry out with one heart, “amen, yes!” to what the LORD has laid out before us. In the morning when we wake, and when we gather together in homes, coffee shops, and restaurants, and especially when we gather to worship together, let us cry out "Thy Kingdom Come and Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!"