For years I had heard and often repeated the prayer “Thy Kingdom come” without ever giving much thought to what I was asking God to do. A couple of months ago I read the book IT: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It by Craig Groeschel. He quotes Alan Redpath who said “Before we can pray, ‘Lord Thy Kingdom come,’ we must be willing to pray ‘My Kingdom go.’”
Wow did that quote really strike home for me over the last few months. I moved to a small town where to pastor a church that was involved with a community of churches from many different tribes. Those of you who know my background I’m sure are surprised that I would be involved with churches from different tribes. But then those of you who have followed my evolution won’t be surprised by my change and acceptance of those who come from different traditions. Perhaps it can be blamed on my doctoral studies or my post-modern spiritual bent or maybe God has just been doing a work in my heart and it’s starting to show to the outside world.
Over the last few years I’ve come to realize that different does not mean heretical. While I know that there often legitimate differences theologically and doctrinally, I also know that God’s plan for us is unity even in our diversity.
17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. Luke 11:17 (NIV)
Richard Baxter, Seventeenth-century Puritan minister once lamented “Is it not enough that all the world is against us, but we must also be against one another? O happy days of persecution, which drove us together in love, whom the sunshine of liberty and prosperity crumbles into dust by our contentions.”
As leaders we must be Kingdom minded and His, not our own personal kingdom. Kingdom minded people are more interested in the advancement of the Kingdom then our own personal agenda. Kingdom-minded people are generous and eager to partner with others in order to accomplish more for the Kingdom. It’s about Jesus – no other name under heaven is more important – not even yours! Or mine!
It’s all about Him (or at least it aught to be)!
Several weeks ago I was reviewing my message for the coming Sunday (yeah I try to plan ahead) and I was struck by the passage in Genesis on Abraham and how he lived open handedly and gave a tenth of his wealth to the King of Salem who was a gentile and also the high priest of El Elyon (God Most High). Abraham was the one God promised to father many nations and was the one through whom all of the world would be blessed and yet he practiced living open-handedly.
I was going to be teaching on this subject and I thought, “Won’t it be great if we could put actions with my words.” And sitting in my favorite Chinese Buffet it struck me exactly how we could practice living open handedly and promote unity of the Kingdom of God. We had a neighboring tribe (read church here) that was having a Miracle Sunday in two weeks. They were on their final push to raise funds for a new building. And I thought wouldn’t it be grand if a neighboring tribe we contributed to their building drive with a love gift expressing our unity amidst our diversity.
So after my elders gulped a few times they prayed about it and agreed that this was a God thing. I announced my hair-brained idea to our congregation. Their first though was what about our building fund. And I explained how God’s plan was for his servants to meet the needs of others and that God promised to meet our needs when the time was right.
We gave and I went across the street to deliver our love gift to our neighboring tribe and was very warmly received by the pastor who blown away that we would give to their needs.
Their big Miracle Sunday was a huge success for them and they far exceeded their goal for the day. The interesting thing was that the church sent over a delegation to our church during our morning service to thank our people for our love gift.
They were blown away our people were moved by God to practice what we were learning from Scriptures and healing between our two congregations was begun. God was honored and unity of the body was promoted in a tangible way.
Here are some of the lessons that I’ve learned from this experience
God wants to stretch our faith
God’s kingdom is a very big place.
God will bless us with more responsibility for being obedient
When we share Kingdom unity emerges
We are extending His Kingdom when we are obedient to His leading
We model true Kingdom stewardship
We need to encourage others to radical generosity
We really don’t know what the final outcome will be, because God is not done with us yet.
John Wesley once said: “Do all the good that you can. By all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”
Learning what it means to be a citizen of the Kingdom