I have a presence on social media, but I am careful with what I consume in that arena. One of the elements of social media that annoy me in particular is MEMEs. If you don’t know, a MEME is a picture or a graphic that has a short saying to make a point. Sometimes they are funny, but most times, they are profoundly annoying and terribly incorrect. Fallacies abound, and false information is ubiquitous. Therefore, I thought I would start a series breaking down some MEMEs that especially irk me. With that, let’s get to this edition’s disaster.
So far, in this series, we have looked at the Kingdom of God from many different angles. In this edition, I want to take a look at a steam of Parables in Matthew 13 that speaks directly to the nature of the Kingdom of God
My kids are grown now. Both have moved out of the house and are living lives that are independent of their parents. I am exceedingly proud of my kids and what they have accomplished in their lives. But in that pride is a bit of sorrow. I miss picking up my daughter and her beeping my nose, saying, with a laugh, “Boopies, I got you first!” I miss having deep conversations with my then four-year-old son. “Daddy, what ‘cuz the world to go in circles around the sun?” Yes, they had their times of disobedience, and they needed to be corrected from time to time. However, those memories have faded into the past. Mostly what remains are memories of happy, joyous times with my children.
Until recently, I had never read any of Henri Nouwen’s work. I have a feeling that my choice of starting with The Return of the Prodigal Son was an excellent place to start. Nouwen’s reflections on not just the parable Jesus told in Luke 15, but also reflections on the famous painting by Rembrandt. Tying in these two elements, I was deeply challenged by Nouwen to reflect on the three main characters in the story: the younger son, the elder son, and the father.
For this series on the Kingdom of God, we have seen how the Kingdom of God is something that is both now and future, that we live in the Kingdom by following Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes, that the gospel is not just when we die we go to Heaven but is centered on the work of Jesus, and that we can approach the throne of the King in prayer. This installment, I want to focus on the fact that there is only one King
In John 20, Jesus does something entirely unexpected. The resurrection itself was quite surprising, but now, in the upper room, Jesus breaths on the disciples and states, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22 (CSB). This essay will review the background understanding of the Holy Spirit for the Jewish disciples, exegesis of John 20:21-23 with observations and interpretations, and conclude with an application.
We are amid some extraordinary days. We rolled into 2020 with high hopes and dreams. For me, I was looking forward to Memorial Day Holiday and NASCAR in Charlotte. I was also looking forward to seeing one of my favorite bands, the Doobie Brothers, on their 50th-anniversary tour. I love gathering with my CMA chapter and with the bodies of two different churches. But now, many of those things are gone, and others have been drastically altered.
Now that we have established these facts about the Kingdom, we need to talk about something important. That is approaching the King (God) in the Kingdom of God. For this, we need to start in Genesis 1 and 2. For a lot of my writing, I tend to go back to Genesis 1 and 2 to establish a baseline. This is humanity’s intended purpose and place in God’s Kingdom. It is who we are meant to be.
Let me ask you a question. What do you understand the gospel to be? Some might answer like this: "Accept Jesus as your Savior, and when you die, you will go to Heaven." Or "Put your faith in Jesus, and your sins will be forgiven." Or "Follow Jesus, and you will find meaning and purpose for your life." All of these answers are right – but they are only partially correct. These statements are parts of the gospel, but they are not the entirety of the gospel.
In the first installment, I discussed what the Kingdom of God (KoG) is. The KoG is something we look forward to in full in the future. It is also something we live in now in the present. We wait for the fulfillment, but we live in the present Kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit. The question then becomes, how do we live in the KoG.