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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.