Friday, June 13, 2008

Back again

I've really been lazy about blogging lately. My excuse is that life has gotten a lot crazier since becoming the senior pastor of my church. But I'm back, and I'll try a little harder.

Of course, this assumes someone out there is actually reading this stuff.

Besides being lazy about blogging, I've been angry and upset about things happening in the world these days. Out of sight gas prices (I heard today gasoline may soon reach $6 a gallon)... stocks plunging... a presidential election I'm not excited about... friends getting cancer... dumb decisions in Washington... and many more such things have been getting me quite depressed.

But I'm preaching through the book of Acts, and I've noticed that the early Christians had it much worse that we do. I mean, we don't experience near the kind of religious persecution they did. We don't experience near the degree of marginalization and discrimination those 1st century believers did. They had it tough in so many ways. I haven't been stoned lately, have you?

Yet, for the most part (there were exceptions, like Ananias and Sapphira), the early Christians maintained their integrity. They kept their focus on God. They had a boldness about them that reveals an underlying spirit of optimism. They loved and served each other, and reached out to the lost. They didn't get all depressed and whiny. They seem to have stayed positive.

Why? I think it's because they were well established in their belief in the Kingdom.

Behavior is always rooted in ideas, and there's no better idea than the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God means his rule, reign, and dominion. Some people suggest that Kingdom is the unifying theme of the entire Bible, and I'm inclined to agree. When it comes to the book of Acts, I notice that Kingdom frames the whole book. In Acts 1:3, it says that Jesus spoke to his followers about the Kingdom of God. In Acts 28:31, it says that Paul preached the Kingdom of God. The book of Acts opens and closes on the note of Kingdom.

So maybe the early Christians were not blown away by the events of the day because they were persuaded Jesus was still on the throne. Plus, they remembered such Kingdom teaching in the Hebrew Scriptures as the following...
  • “The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
  • “His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him” (Daniel 7:27).
  • “He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him” (Psalm 72:8, 11).
  • “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2:44).
It's my thesis that the early Christians had a Kingdom confidence that we need today. I certainly need it.


Jill said...

I need Kingdom confidence, too! The things of this world can be so discouraging if we remain focused on them. It's awful how hard it is sometimes. Thanks for the reminder to keep the Kingdom Focus. Good to hear from you on here again.

Paul said...

Yeah we're reading, though I am so glad to know that you are caring for the people of UPC as well and that it takes priority over blogging.


Joan and Lou said...

Thanks for your sermon on Sunday. It was something we needed to hear. We love you more than words can say.