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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.


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Defend and Declare (2)

for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Romans 14.17

Faulty views of the faith
Ask the wrong-believers you know what they think of Christianity, and you’re likely to get a variety of responses.

Some would say it’s good for those who need it. If we can’t get along without our God-crutch, then that’s fine. Just don’t insist that everyone has to limp along like you.

Others might say they think the faith of Christ has become irrelevant in our day. Look around. Churches members are declining. No serious university takes Christianity seriously. Christians don’t wield much influence in the public square or any of the professions. Their views just don’t matter.

Still others might flare up, get indignant, and start accusing you of trying to cram your religion down their throats. Christianity for them is a source of contention, a threat to their own worldview, and something to be shouted down, if not altogether stamped out.

It’s not likely, however, that many will say, concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that it is the key to helping people learn to live together in mutual love and respect, so that everyone can flourish and be at peace, society and culture can be beautified and enriched, and everyone can know true joy and lasting fulfillment.

After all, if they believed that, wouldn’t they be Christians already?

Whose fault?
Why are there so many faulty views of Christianity about these days? Whose fault is it that such strawman perceptions dominate in our day? It’s not because aggressive wrong-believers have misrepresented the faith or exaggerated its failings. They have better things to do with their time.

Mostly it’s because we who hold the faith of Christ have not been clear about what we believe, why we believe it, and why believing in Jesus makes a difference in our lives. And, on top of that, we haven’t exactly lived, in a caring, courageous, and consistent manner, the beliefs and convictions we claim to hold dear.

But we are Christians, presumably, because we find that Jesus brings an experience of life, purpose, meaning, joy, and peace that nothing else has managed to provide. We cherish Jesus and what we have in Him, and we can’t understand why everyone else doesn’t feel the same.

The day of salvation
The apostle Paul declared, “now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6.2). Now. Not the former days of reformation and revival. Not some coming day when Jesus returns. Now. Today.

But the fact of salvation seems to have eluded most people, including a great many of those who profess to possess it. What does it mean to be saved? Saved from what? Saved for what? So it’s the day of salvation: just what does that mean?

The Biblical idea of salvation carries the meaning of wholeness, of rediscovering true humanness. It means being set free from the snares and chains of mere lust and foolish self-interest so that we can discern more noble aspirations and pursue more fulfilling and satisfying paths. To be saved is to live in the truth of God and to escape the bondage of the lies of wrong belief. It is to be truly, gloriously, and eternally free.

Throughout the course of human history, those who have known the salvation which God grants us through Jesus Christ have been responsible for bringing more in the way of beauty, goodness, and truth to the human experience than any other movement, philosophy, or religion. In every area of culture and society, the presence of the saved has meant liberation for human creativity, genius, and wellbeing. Yes, of course, there have been problems along the way and blips in the road. Christians aren’t perfect, as we know.

But where the salvation of God has truly taken root in a person’s life, everything begins to change. The life and love of Jesus replace mere self-interest, the peace of eternal rest overcomes all anxiousness and fear, and joy that nothing can shake or steal settles over the soul. In such a condition people and cultures begin to flourish as never before. Together in their flourishing, the followers of Christ bear the fruits of their salvation in culture in ways that delight as they ennoble, and in societies, such that freedom and justice abound for all.

Regardless of what the wrong-believing world may think or hope, now is the day of salvation! The Kingdom of God has come to earth, and righteousness, peace, and joy are expanding all over the world (1 Jn. 2.8).

If you are not experiencing this, it may be that your view of salvation is too small. If being saved means to you only that your sins are forgiven and you’re going to heaven when you die, then you don’t really understand the full power and scope of what Jesus has accomplished on your behalf. He Who is making all things new is ready to do the same in your life and, through you, into every arena of your life – all your relationships, roles, and responsibilities, all your time and possessions, all your hopes and aspirations.

The Christian hopes for the glory of God (Rom. 5.1, 2), that is, that we might see God at work in and through us to bring honor and glory to His Name in all we are, think, say, and do. Now is the day of such a great salvation – now! Those who are saved understand this, and they strive to realize that glorious salvation more and more each day, living, declaring, and defending by all their words and deeds.

For reflection or discussion
1. What do the people in your Personal Mission Field think about Christianity? Why not ask them?

2. We have a great salvation, greater than we have ever dared to ask or think. What is your approach to laying hold on more of that great salvation?

3. What does it mean for you to hope for the glory of God?

Next steps – Preparation: How well do you understand the meaning of salvation? Listen to some music by Johann Sebastian Bach and ask yourself, what did it mean for Bach to be saved? Or read some poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins, view some paintings by Rembrandt or Vermeer, and ask: What did it mean for these people to be saved? How can you increase in your experience of the great salvation of our Lord?

T. M. Moore

You can download this and all the studies in this series, “Let God Be True,” by clicking here. For a series of discussions on improving your conversational skills, begin here in our Personal Mission Field Workshop to learn the art of Christian conversation.

A companion book to this study, Understanding the Times, is available at our bookstore. Learn more about this book and order a free copy by clicking here. Our booklet, The Gospel of the Kingdom, can help ready you to proclaim the Good News. Order your free copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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