If you are like me there was a time you would have answered “get saved and go to heaven.” That, for me, was what I believed the central message of the bible, Jesus, and his Kingdom to be. I honestly thought my job after I “got saved” was to wait for death or the rapture and hopefully save some other souls along the way.
If you are also like me then you remember when you learned everything you thought was the central message of the bible, Jesus and his Kingdom, was actually distorted and far from reality. In case you haven’t experienced this, the only way I can describe it is with a movie analogy. That movie is the Matrix.
If you recall, and I hope you have seen the Matrix, when Neo is pulled out of the fabricated reality and brought into the truth, it is too much for him to handle and he throws up.
Very similarly when the reality hit me, I too felt like throwing up. It was a “Matrix” moment for me that resulted with an entirely new outlook on this world, my role within, and what it means to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God.
As enlightening as this was it also causes a fundamental problem. There are many who are still in “the Matrix.” When you attempt to explain that the central message of the bible is not entirely what they had been taught, it can get ugly. They will most likely not belive you; they will think you have gone off the deep end. Some may even tell you they will pray that you find your way back to God – which I have a hard time not laughing at.
So what then is the bible an invitation to? The answer, that I believe with absolute conviction, is that the bible is an invitation to have an impact on this world.
We are presented this picture of a loving God who wants this world back as His home. This God has chosen those beings who accept the challenge to steward His image as the mechanisms to show the world His love. It is a fascinating story with an even more fascinating invitation. Simply put, we are invited to be useful. To join God in His new creation project, which is now possible because of Jesus – Christos Victor!
God, through his prophets, Words, and witnesses has given us all the needed vision necessary to now go about our business useful.
What is even more profound is that when we get to the business of being useful we actually bring the Gospel. When we set our eyes to the things in this world that stand in opposition to God’s Kingdom, good news follows.
When we bring water to those who have been denied it, because of power, greed, systemic oppression, etc, we bring the message that Jesus is the King not those who deprive others.
When we help those on the underside of power we send the message, Jesus is King, not those who oppress others.
This profound shift in evangelism and the effectiveness of the good news when we help those who need it most, is simply eye opening.
Now if we embrace this reality to be useful, not simply seek some emotional experience or “high,” wouldn’t it stand to reason that how we do church would be different?
Would we orient our worship, fellowship, prayer, teaching, communion, rituals, etc, all differently if we embraced the reality to be useful and have impact?
I think so.