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Monday, 2 February 2015

A Different Kingdom

'...allow the pure holy fire of his love to burn up the excuses...'
A couple of weeks ago I wrote of how God's new world, which has already been sown into this old world, offers the hope of transformation. Of ultimate transformation of course, of an eventual new heaven and new earth. But also of personal transformation. Real change that can begin here and now.

I've been thinking again about the nature of this kingdom. It is so important that we realise it is such a different kingdom from those of this world. The gospel message is that Jesus is Lord, but he is not the kind of lord that Caesar is. His rule is of a completely different spirit and even his disciples can miss this at times, which is why they wanted to call down fire on the towns that did not accept his lordship (Luke 9:51-56). They still had the 'us and them', 'in or out', 'God-is-on-our side' mentality. He told them sternly that they did not know what spirit they were of. And yet I suggest that many of his followers still make this their message of the kingdom - turn or burn! Obey or pay! Get right with God or he will destroy you!

I think that our message rather is a welcome into a new world that holds within it real hope of personal transformation. And yes. It will require us to 'repent' in the sense that we will have to completely re-think the truth about ourselves and our world; we have to face the naked truth about ourselves; to face - even with grief - how wrong we have been; and allow the pure holy fire of his love to burn up the excuses and the pretence. It can be painful, but it is the pain of new birth, of a new world being born in us. It is the seed of the kingdom taking root in our hearts so that we can begin to truly change from the inside out.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Transformation and God's New World

'We get rumours of this new world..while living in the old..one.'
Reading again a book on spiritual formation by John Ortberg, I was moved by his depiction of the kingdom of God as another world, a whole different realm of being. We get rumours of this new world even while living in the old, broken one. The artists, writers and poets hint at it and reach for it, though not really understanding what they reach for. In this kingdom, this other world, everything gets to be transformed and made new, including us. Ortberg suggests that our fairy tales hint at this truth: frogs become princes, ugly ducklings become beautiful swans and wooden puppets become real boys. Personal transformation is central to this new world, this new creation.

That's good news because we disappoint ourselves. We want to be better people. We sense that we were created to be better than we are. I hope that we know that we are loved just as we are, because the journey must start there, but we still long to become all that we were meant to be. God's masterpieces. The gospel of the kingdom is the announcement and promise of this new world. And of the open secret that this new world has already been sown into the soil of the old one. It is therefore the announcement that our hope of transformation can be realised. That we can become the people we were created to be.

In my intention to take some tentative few steps back into blogging, I hope to share some thoughts and observations about personal transformation. As I do, I write very much as a fellow-pilgrim and not at all as an expert. And would value the insights of others.