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Five Ways to Wisely Re-Engage a Re-Opening World

Five Ways to Wisely Re-Engage a Re-Opening World

My wife and I had the strangest experience the other day. We looked at our calendars and realized that the next two weeks were booked solid. We knew then and there that we needed to make some decisions.

As vaccines have become more readily available, the positivity rate has decreased, people have made safe practices a part of their social gatherings, and more and more people are slowly re-engaging life in public. 

And that means one thing: busyness is eager to take over again. 

Whether it’s playdates, sports, dinner with friends, Bible studies, grocery shopping, and the like, as the weather warms up and the world reopens, busyness is ready to fill the void. Before COVID hit, the most common response from people when you asked them how they were doing was, “Busy.” That is one form of normal I’m not eager to re-engage. 

Here’s the good news: we don’t have to return to that life. 

As Christians we are to be a people of work and rest, (Genesis 1-2) redeeming the time (Ephesians 5:16) as good stewards. While having a full calendar isn’t wrong, we are encouraged to leverage the time with which we’ve been entrusted to further Jesus’ purposes with healthy, humanizing rhythms. This is how God designed us, and therefore, it’s part of God’s plan for our flourishing.

Here are five tips to wisely re-engage a reopening world. 

1. Schedule Quarantine Favorites

You don’t have to say “yes” to everything that was before. One of the gifts of this last year is the opportunity to make significant adjustments to how you fill your calendar and the values that shape your life. 

Two quarantine favorites for me were grace blocks and dates in our backyard. 

A grace block is a pocket of time in each day where you schedule nothing. Yes, nothing. It’s a space that allows other projects you’d underestimated to spill over, and so give yourself grace in the form of margin to finish out without stressing out. For me, I block about an hour a day for a grace block. It’s so helpful to recognize I can’t foresee everything, but I can predict my finitude and need for grace. Grace blocks are something I’m holding onto in my calendar.

Next, my wife Allie and I discovered we love date nights in the backyard. Before we used to stress about trying to get out of the house, organize a babysitter, and get back before too late. Now, we can put our kids to bed and sit under the stars in the city in our backyard with a glass of wine and talk for hours. Who knew date night was so easy? 

I know for some of you these seem rudimentary, but that’s the point. What are 2-3 good things that have made it onto your calendar during COVID and quarantine that you want to keep? Schedule your quarantine favorites going forward. 

2. Keep Going Deep with a Few

In a world of endless Facebook friends and Twitter followers, one of the greatest insights I received in college was the encouragement to cultivate a few close friendships. This became a necessity as our COVID circles grew smaller and our relationships with a few folks went deeper. 

As everything opens up again, you don’t have to sacrifice the newfound depth you’ve found in the relationships around you. You don’t have to say “yes” to everyone, but be sure you have reserved the time and space for those relationships that are especially meaningful and life-giving. 

I have absolutely LOVED the amount of family time I’ve been able to have with my wife and kids this last year. We’ve locked down some rhythms that are high points in my week, and I have them on my calendar now so I keep time reserved for these very important people.

Now, as things open, if you want to still go deep but also expand your relational horizons, it wouldn’t hurt to add just one more chair to a deep group of friends. Who says you can’t have it all? A new friend and deep ongoing relationships. Add one more person at a time to the social circle, and who knows what could happen? 

3. Continue the Creativity

You don’t have to follow the predetermined path laid out by our consumerist culture before the pandemic. I’m all about going out to eat at local restaurants and traveling the continental United States, but you don’t have to spend a ton to continue to connect with others and have fun. 

Find hiking trails with family and friends, go on picnics at one of our city’s green spaces, or pull out those board games for an afternoon in the park. These are exceptional avenues for fun. 

My family is excited about Parkopalooza. Now I did not make this up, I’m stealing it. But the idea is that you spend an afternoon visiting parks across our city. 

Here’s how: 

  • Do a little research. You can drive around to various parks or look online. Are there some with hidden playgrounds or unique fun setups? 
  • Map it out. Plan how much time you have to spend and how much time you want to spend at each park. 
  • Hit it hard. Run, slide, jump and swing at the planned park for the allotted time. Then, no matter how much fun you’re having, go to the next. It’s an adventure after all! Part of the fun is just exploring the new parks. 

Parkpalooza is just one example of creative fun in the sun. Keep exploring and trying new ideas. 

4. Remain Adaptable 

As much as Zoom calls may wane from their prominence, flexibility, patience, and empathy aren’t going anywhere. If anything, as all of our tanks are running low after a year of high adaptability, these Christlike traits are going to be more important than ever. 

So as the travel bug or the desire to re-engage in the world creeps in, remain adaptable. As Christians, we of all people know that we are to hold our plans loosely. God is in control, not us, and so whenever we make plans, we entrust them to the Lord (James 4:15). This posture keeps us patient and flexible. 

As I dream about the faithful presence of the church in the coming years, one of my hopes and desires is that we make adaptability and patience a part of the forever new normal for us! The posture of patience, grace and gentleness is the Christian calling, not a COVID pastime. 

5. Prioritize Giving of Yourself with Others

Andy Crouch, Christian author and speaker who has brilliantly been spot-on throughout the pandemic, has been looking back to help us look forward. What does he notice? After the Spanish Flu of 1918, we had the roaring twenties. People were tired of being cooped up. They just wanted to party already, and frankly, that wasn’t a high point for the church. 

I think Andy Crouch is on to something in that one of the greatest temptations that awaits us in these next couple of years is to get out and LIVE life to the fullest! By that I mean, we may be tempted to indulge our desires, give in to our every whim, and let our appetites and wants guide our lives now that we’ve been unleashed. 

Nothing could be further from what we see in Jesus and our calling to follow Him. 

Rather, what would it look like to GIVE life to its fullest? 

What would it look like if as restrictions decrease, we leveraged that empowerment to take on the posture of servants? The basin and towel has always been a marker of the follower of Jesus, and maybe as things reopen we should prioritize giving of ourselves rather than treating ourselves. 

That may mean a different posture at work, an area of repentance at home, continued patience with your church, engaging in a blood drive in your community, serving at your church (which means returning to your church in person), or donating time toward serving with a ministry partner (find our list here). While the what is unique to you, this calling isn’t. 

Don’t let life grow like a weed, or it will take over. Redeem the time and be intentional, and decide ahead of time how you will re-engage a reopening world. 

Who knows how this year will impact the next season of your life? Be wise. Be a good steward. It’s not just your calendar. It’s your life. And remember it actually is His.

The Many Sides of Prayer

The Many Sides of Prayer

We’ve Only Just Begun

If you haven’t heard yet, across all five campuses, we are on a formational journey toward deeper Christlike being and doing. One of our newest resources to help us learn from God’s word in God’s ways with God’s people is theFormed.life

 In the first 10 weeks of theFormed.life, we’ve had over 1100 people on this shared journey toward a more intentionally formed Christlike life. 

 And we’ve only just begun. 

 We are continuing to refine theFormed.life to make it more accessible, and if you haven’t signed up yet, Sunday, April 11 is the perfect time. As we begin a new sermon series, theFormed.life will zero in on the discipline of prayer for the next 10 weeks. 

 As we explore prayer, we’ll engage in a seven day rhythm that is anchored in the sermon series and includes various practices and habits in prayer that will expand our framework for this central discipline. 

 Watch below to learn how you can join your church family in this journey!

An Intro to “Why” the Discipline of Prayer

It doesn’t take but a cursory reading of the Gospel accounts to see that one of the critical practices of Jesus was prayer. Throughout His life Jesus goes looking for places to pray away from the crowds, at times spends all night praying with others, and constantly urges His followers to pray. 

 Throughout his letters to various early churches, the apostle Paul modeled and encouraged followers of Jesus to grow in the area of prayer. We also have room to grow in this crucial Christian habit. 

 

An Improved Companion Journal

The companion journal is a great place to gather your thoughts, keep your sermon notes, work on your memory verse and more. While the journal does not REPLACE theFormed.life online, it contains journaling prompts that connect with Sunday sermons and online materials. It can be used alone or as a supplement to what is happening online. It’s a great tool to keep with you and even bring to your community group or small group gatherings.

Get yours at your campus any Sunday this April! You can also
DOWNLOAD THE PDF

We hope you join us along the way, because — to be sure — we are all being formed by someone or something. Whether it’s by your choice of media, news, daily rhythms, or relationships, all have a part to play in who we are becoming. Our perspective, posture and practices are all being tweaked by our cultural location. If we are not intentionally setting our sights on the practices and precepts of Christ daily, we may find ourselves deformed in alarming ways only after we’ve experienced the damage in our lives. 

Let’s take that next step together. Let’s put the “formed” back in biblically informed.

Jesus’ Salvation Reorients Everything or Nothing

Jesus’ Salvation Reorients Everything or Nothing

For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10)

Few words come with as much comfort as Jesus’ clarity here as to why He came to us. Some scholars even believe this is the central statement of the Gospel account of Luke and Jesus’ mission.

As comforting as that statement is, a crucial question hangs in the air: what does it mean to be saved by Jesus? 

The answer to such a question informs what kind of King Jesus is, the kind of Gospel (Luke 8:1) He came bringing and proclaiming, and the kind of implications His Kingdom reign mediates. The answer to this question impacts how we see every bit of our new life now because of Jesus and our promised everlasting life into eternity with Jesus. Ultimately the answer does not inform what it means to be a mature Christian, an elder or a leader in the faith. Rather, the answer informs what it does mean to be a Christian. 

Because of the weight of such a question, this is where we may be tempted to do a bit of textual hopscotch jumping around the New Testament everywhere the word “saved” appears in a concordance. In so doing we seek to string together a series of one verse statements to come up with a broader answer to our question.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for this central statement of Jesus in Luke 19 to be taken out of its context, and as theologian, Dr. D.A. Carson would often remind me and my fellow seminarians in class: “A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.” Dr. Carson’s wordplay highlights how we can take a text out of its context and then easily import our own meaning. This is how one can support various ideologies whether completely heretical or theologically incomplete. 

Therefore, the best way to navigate what any text means is to look first at its context. So first, one must ask “what does salvation mean here?”  

What does salvation mean here

Luke’s Gospel Account. In the context of holy Scripture, we find ourselves firmly situated in the Gospel of Luke, wherein Luke has sought to bring an orderly and reliable account of who Jesus is and what He came to do (Luke 1:3) . 

In chapter 1, Luke sets out that this Jesus is not merely an astounding leader popping up disconnected from history. Rather, this Jesus is the promised Son of David, the Messiah (Hebrew), the Christ (Greek). He is the King who God promised years before would sit on a throne in a Kingdom that would know no end (Luke 1:32-33). 

Therefore it’s no surprise that when we find Jesus declaring the Gospel (translated “good news” in many translations) He both proclaims and brings the gospel of the Kingdom. Throughout the whole of Luke we are asking what kind of King is Jesus and what kind of Kingdom is He bringing to save us from the oppression and brokenness of our world.  

The title, “Son of Man,” that Jesus uses to signify His identity both here in Luke 19:10, and throughout Luke’s account, is another one of those many messianic titles (Daniel 7:13-14) that sparks interest in Jesus’ royal identity while simultaneously not allowing the listener to place their messianic ideology on Him. A lot of expectations were swirling in the first century as to what kind of messiah would finally deliver Israel.

When Jesus engages people in the narratives, these are not isolated incidents. He is ushering in His salvation and defining His reign one story at a time. One such space where this happens is with the chief tax collector, Zacchaeus.  

Zacchaeus’ Encounter. In Luke 19, we find an interesting dynamic in which Zacchaeus is clearly on the lookout for Jesus, but surprisingly Jesus is also looking for Zacchaeus. It is surprising because Zacchaeus’ status is that of an internal oppressor and betrayer of his own people. Then in a strange turn of events, when a “house” was more than just a home, Jesus invites himself over for dinner. 

One’s house in the ancient Near East was an economic center, a place that situated one’s honor (or shame), and might actually be made of various homes of various families and servants. Jesus was the highly honored Messiah and Zacchaeus the scorn of Israel, and yet Jesus bestows honor on Zacchaeus that he did not deserve. 

In many ways, the story of the rich ruler earlier in Luke 18 looms over this story. When the rich ruler engages Jesus he’s unwilling to give Jesus the final word over every aspect of his life including family and wealth. Will Zacchaeus be like the rich ruler? Will he be more tethered to his wealth or to Jesus? The tension is thick.

Then — without clear directive from Jesus — Zacchaeus offers to give half of his wealth to the poor and provide above and beyond reparations to those he’s swindled. What we may miss is how Jesus not dictating the response of Zacchaeus is important for his standing in the community. 

King Jesus extends honor graciously. It therefore allows space for Zacchaeus to respond on his own initiative to the gracious honor bestowed upon him by Jesus, which in turn sets the stage for Zacchaeus’ reconciliation to the community. 

It is only then that Jesus says (and the order of the narrative is important), “Today, salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9). 

There’s that word “house” again. Salvation has not just come to Zacchaeus otherwise that is what Luke would have recorded. But that is not what Jesus sought to communicate. As we follow the text we read that salvation came to Zacchaeus’ house. It has impacted his person, his economics, the community’s economics (those who experienced theft were restored), and even his communal belonging. Within a contextual reading of Luke 19:10, we quickly come to understand that Jesus’ salvation involves more than just our ethereal souls. 

For King Jesus, when His salvation breaks in He not only saves us from our broken past, He also saves us for new life which encompasses our personal, spiritual, communal and financial outworkings of everyday life both now and into eternity.

This is a deeply biblical framework for salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. But is that how we often think of salvation? 

If when we say “I’m saved” we only mean our souls and not the radically reoriented whole life of repentance and reconciliation, then we’ve left Jesus’ thought of salvation incomplete. 

Someone then may say, “But in Romans 10:9, I read, ‘…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’” Of course we must detail out what “heart” means in Scripture, what belief means in Scripture, which is more than just mental assent, and how the declaration that “Jesus is Lord” has lordship implications. For what is Jesus not Lord over? What was the overall argument Paul was making in Romans? Once again: context, context, context.

If this robust nature of salvation is in view here and has implications across Scripture, how is it that this view of salvation is foreign to so many of us? 

Salvation as a Bridge

As I grew up in the church, I often saw an illustration that was meant to communicate how Jesus came to save me. It is both helpful, but also incomplete. 

I grew up hearing that I am on one side of a great canyon too large to cross on my own. The reason I stood on one side of the canyon was due to my sin. On the other side of this impassable canyon was God. He stood there because of his holiness and perfection. No matter how many good things I did, I could not cross the canyon. 

So — as the illustration displays — when Jesus died to save me from my sins on the cross, if I trust in Him and His sufficient work on the cross, I am able to be saved. My sins were forgiven because of Jesus’ death in my place, and Jesus’ work on the cross on my behalf was the bridge to reconciliation with God.

The result of my salvation is that I get to spend eternity with God in heaven. Period.

Growing up if someone asked me, “Are you saved?” They meant this kind of salvation.

Now, that is good news, and it is a crucial part of the good news. But, as we saw with Zacchaeus, that is not all the salvation that Jesus came to bring. 

Saved from Other… Saved Folk.

For starters, Jesus came not only to save “me” but to save “us.” The image above shows a picture of an individual and God, which can easily (even if not intentionally) communicate that the salvation Jesus has come to bring is now a “me and Jesus” life and community is “optional.” 

As the old saying goes, “What you win people with, you win them to.” In the midst of our individualizing salvation, is it any wonder that Christians on a massive scale erroneously believe they can plumb the depths of their salvation in isolation from a church community and actually be closer to Christ?

This is a serious concern because we have made a crucial component of salvation the exclusive summary of salvation, and the outcome is a salvation without a church. Maybe a more snarky way to put it is a misunderstanding of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone through an individualized lens has led some to be all alone. 

We need a more biblical picture of salvation. 

A Better Picture of Salvation 

In Amy Sherman’s Kingdom Calling she offers a more biblical illustration to mine the depths of the salvation Jesus came to bring in His Kingdom. She shares this graph from Intervarsity leader James Choung to guide us in a better way. 

 

First, we see we are damaged by evil and sin (upper right circles). Sin we have committed and sin that has been committed against us. We see it, feel it, and long for it to be made right. (Which if you are talking with someone who is not a follower of Jesus, this as a starting point builds common ground to share the gospel). But the difference is in how this image communicates the broader breakdown of God’s world. Our sin and evil not only separates us from God, but also from each other, creates fragmentation within ourselves, and cultivates a distortion of creation and our call to care for God’s world. 

When Jesus came (bottom right circles), He came to restore the good we were designed for in the beginning (upper left circles) which encompasses all aspects of life. Is there reconciliation with God on a personal level? Yes! But there is also reconciliation with others, with broader creation, and yes, even within ourselves. 

And that isn’t the end. We are not just saved from evil but for good (bottom left circles)! We have been saved as a community of believers to be agents of reconciliation this world over. The church is a redemptive community on mission together.

In the words of James Choung, “Jesus enticed people into a kingdom mission from the outset.” 

This is what salvation in Jesus means. This is the salvation Jesus came to bring. This is King Jesus’ Kingdom agenda to reconcile all things to Himself (Colossians 1:20). This is what Jesus means when He says salvation came to Zacchaeus’ house.

And rather than robbing us of our personal relationship with Christ, it adds another level of comfort to the astounding claim of Jesus that He came to seek and save the lost in a robust way

Are we willing to be saved like this?

Now the question becomes frankly a question that is posed to people who approach Jesus in the gospels again and again: are we willing to be saved like this? Will we let Jesus’ grace reorient everything, or nothing? Will we embrace this kind of Kingdom and this kind of King?

Because Jesus wants all of us to be saved, not just parts of us. He wants all the broken, mangled, and messed up areas of our lives both personally and corporately as a church, and He longs to save. 

And He will take any of us as long as He can have every part of us. That’s the beauty of Zacchaeus’ story too. Jesus sought the worst and His grace led to whole-life repentance and salvation. 

Will we let Him save us like that? 

If we do, we won’t just be waiting for heaven to come one day, but will experience the reign of Christ in the everyday. We won’t just know a deeper joy within ourselves in our personal private disciplines, but also experience a greater depth of joy with one another. We will see the reconciliation that Paul was zealous about within the church, the poor and vulnerable who James was concerned for would be cared for within the church, and those with great power, wealth and status, like Zacchaeus, would go to great lengths to leverage their power to make their communities more whole. 

On top of all that, we will see a whole host of people who don’t know Jesus and are uninterested in a salvation of disembodied souls, finally hear and see all that Jesus has come to bring and proclaim in His Kingdom. We will finally see more Zacchaeuses’ come to know and trust Jesus and more Jerichos (Luke 19:1, 8) experience restoration through repentance. 

And in the end, that is good news for one’s soul. 

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For Further Study:

Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy Shermon. The chapter of note above is How the Gospel of the Kingdom Nurtures the Tsaddiqim. Also within this chapter, James Choung talks of how sharing the gospel with unbelievers using the circles paradigm has been catalytic in their gospel conversations. 

 

Informed but Still Deformed

Informed but Still Deformed

The Great Failure
Some of the greatest failures in the church over the past few years have had less to do with what is professed in our words and more around what is performed in our lives. 

Nationally visible leaders who were bulwarks for truth were found to be living a lie themselves, and the revealed hypocrisy shook the church. Many championed mouthpieces of Gospel information lacked deep Gospel formation and so brought defamation to Christ’s name.

That in no way is meant to be a judgment on others, but it should raise the alarm on our framework of discipleship. We cannot merely know information about God. While information is important, it is not sufficient for the salvation which we long for and need (James 2:19). 

One sign of true salvation and evidence that we know God relationally is to experience His transformative presence in our lives (Romans 8:1-11). And yet, in our well-meaning emphasis to highlight true information, we can all too easily neglect rich Spirit-empowered formation. The two are not to be divorced. We are both saved from sin and also to new life in Christ. A disciple of Jesus knows who Jesus is as described in God’s word; professes the good news of Jesus life, death and resurrection; and is also marked by both the precepts and practices of Jesus.

The Great Invitation
This kind of vibrant gospel-shaped life flows from an intimate relationship with Jesus and His people. Jesus did not just give us the Great Commission and affirm the Great Commandment, but He invited us to live with Him when He gave His Great Invitation found in Matthew 11:28-30: 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (ESV)

The brilliant gospel writer Matthew makes Jesus’ desire abundantly clear. Jesus doesn’t want us to just know about Him from afar but to walk with Him and learn from Him intimately. 

At Christ Community, we believe we become the people God designed us to be in the yoke of Christ. The Christian life cannot be summed up in a theological pop quiz (although true information often precedes worthwhile actions), but to profess Jesus as Lord and Savior is a long obedience in the same direction. 

theFormed.life
It is out of this biblical conviction Christ Community has developed theFormed.life. TheFormed.life is a daily resource that helps equip us to more thoughtfully and consistently be formed by God’s Word and God’s ways with God’s people. 

What to Expect
Every day there is provided a small step we can take together to be intentionally cultivating various spiritual habits in our lives. Some days will have video teaching or articles to go deeper. Other days, there will be guidance in practical spiritual disciplines. There may be repetition to help cultivate a new weekly rhythm, while other parts of the week may rotate through fresh practices. 

Every bit of theFormed.life is designed to provide everyday steps toward greater wholeness and influence in Christ. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit would work through this resource to form us into more faithful followers of Jesus in all of life. 

Because — to be sure — we are all being formed by someone or something. Whether it’s by your choice of media, news, daily rhythms, or relationships, all have a part to play in who we are becoming. Our perspective, posture and practices are all being tweaked by our cultural location. If we are not intentionally setting our sights on the practices and precepts of Christ daily, we may find ourselves deformed in alarming ways only after we’ve experienced the damage in our lives. 

How to Join
We hope you’ll join us on this journey to a more faithfully formed life into Christlikeness and so know more deeply God’s presence among us. To join us, you can sign up here, and theformed.life will be in your inbox every morning waiting to help each of us take that next step together. You can also visit our website if you’d like to explore more. 

Let’s put the “formed” back in biblically “informed.” Let’s take that next step together. 

Rediscovering Jesus’ Kingdom

What’s the primary difference between a classic Bollywood and Hollywood love story? 

More than the amount of dancing, the difference lies in what makes the ending truly happy.

In a Hollywood love story, at the center are two individuals on their way to finding each other and a truer version of themselves in the process. “Following your heart” comes first. In a classic Bollywood love story, it’s never just two people. The family comes first. Actually, falling in love is often what lands the key characters in trouble, and if there is to be a happy ending, reconciliation with parents and family must take place.

Art and film can reveal some of the deepest but most invisible everyday realities. In the United States, we swim in the water of individualism. Individualism puts the self at the center of the world, and we are often unaware how this perspective informs (and even deforms) our understanding of the Christian life. 

If you take note of the pronouns in nearly every major contemporary worship song in the US, you’ll notice a trend. Just looking at sheer frequency, it’s easy to conclude “me,” “I,” and “you” are the focus. We tend to emphasize the Christian life as a “me and Jesus” affair. 

For example, Fernando Ortega’s chart-topping song, Give me Jesus, highlights this focus.  

When I am alone, give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
But give me Jesus

And yet interestingly enough, so does LANY’s recent song, i still talk to jesus

I don’t change my ways, I don’t change my shirt
I go from the club straight to the church
It’s the same prayer, it’s the same hurt

Maybe I drink too much
Fall in and out of love
There’s been a couple of times
I’ve done a couple lines
I lie to my mama, I smoke marijuana
Most of the time I do what I wanna
You might not believe it
But I still talk to Jesus

And herein lies the biggest divide between older and younger Christians in the US. As I talk to younger Christians who are frustrated with their parents, or parents who are discouraged by where their children are at in their faith journey, I’ve come to see it’s less a different understanding of the gospel, and more a different cultural application of the individualistic framing of the gospel. While there are clear differences, the main point is the same: the Christian life is between me and Jesus. 

Where do we go from here? The answer is not a return to a former cultural application of an individualistic framework. Rather, we need to return to a more robustly biblical framework of the gospel which also includes the collective alongside the individual. 

Hollywood has something to learn from Bollywood.

Rather than understanding salvation and the gospel in purely individualistic terms and reading the Bible looking for what the text means for “me,” we need to learn to swim in different water. We need the sea of Galilee, not a chlorine rich pool. In an ancient near-Eastern (not Western) framework, the biblical authors didn’t think about life or write Scripture from a primarily individualistic frame.

With this in mind, we turn to the final chapters in the Gospel account of Luke seeking to understand what the original authors meant to convey, and what the original audience would have heard.

In one sense, all of the Gospel of Luke is written from a collective perspective with an emphasis on “us” and not just “me,” and the language of the kingdom puts the collective emphasis front and center. Fascinatingly enough, Luke’s Gospel doesn’t end with Jesus just equipping individuals to have a personal relationship with Jesus on their own. He’s inviting them to embrace Jesus as King of a kingdom over His people throughout the world. This becomes more explicit in Luke’s “Part 2:”, the book of Acts, but it’s also right here in Luke’s Gospel account if we can relearn how to see through Luke’s eyes.

Once we have a different perspective, we begin to understand why one rich man is called to give everything he has to the poor to follow Jesus, and why Jesus says salvation has come to the house of a particular tax collector only after that man announces he’ll give reparations. It gives insight as to why Jesus tells us to pay our taxes, and why leadership is cultivated primarily with a basin and towel service in the community.

In Luke’s Gospel (and every gospel account for that matter), if you want to know Jesus and follow Him, then you can’t just embrace Jesus. You also need to embrace His kingdom, which He is bringing. For Jesus didn’t come to help us escape the world, He came to reclaim it.

But what does His kingdom look like? Do we even know what we’re asking when we ask as we are taught to ask by Jesus Himself: “Your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2)?

Jesus and His kingdom seem absolutely backward from the way everything else operates, and yet it’s both Jesus and His kingdom this world needs. It’s what we need. It’s what our city needs. And yes, it’s even what you and I need personally.

Join us as we Rediscover Jesus’ Kingdom through the Gospel account of Luke.

If you would like to read and process Scripture with a frame closer to the original authors, here are two resources that are a great place to start: 

  1. Misreading Scripture with Individualistic Eyes: Patronage, Honor, and Shame in the Biblical World by E. Randolph Richards and Richard James (pseudonym of a cross-cultural trainer who is also involved in leading church planting teams in the Middle East)
  2. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels by Kenneth Bailey