#BeTheKingdom is the Podcast for July 3, 2016. What does it mean “The Kingdom of God is near”? What do churches dare to do when they put out a shingle or raise a roof? Do you need to find a new church? To live the Kingdom will make you ask these questions and more. Listen here in this reflection: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #KingdomofGod #Galatians #Love #Joy #Peace #Patience #Goodness #Gentleness #SelfControl #Namaan #Elisha #BeTheKingdom #Gossip
#BeTheKingdom: A Reflection on Luke 10
Full Text of Podcase, Open Here
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 7/3/2016 The 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 10:1-11; 16-20.
“The Kingdom of God is at hand,” or “The Kingdom of God is near.” How often have we heard this? Like so much in practicing our faith, has it become so common that it has a nebulous ring to it? What exactly does it mean that “The Kingdom of God is at hand” or “The Kingdom of God is near”?
It must be important because Jesus tells the 70 he sends out on a mission that they need to tell everyone that “The Kingdom of God is near.” What is the “Kingdom of God?”
The Kingdom of God is the reality that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are real, they are in charge, and their rules are those that need to be adhered to. That sounds ominous, doesn’t it? That sounds power hungry on the part of God, doesn’t it? That sounds selfish on God’s part, does it not? It does until we dig deeper and not let our prejudices fill in the background, but let the background be provided by the context of what happened in the Gospel.
Here, Jesus sends out people to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is here. They not only say it, but they also demonstrate what that Kingdom is and how it operates. It operates like this: the sick and disabled are healed. The people who were considered not in God’s plan are. Those with sin, that is all of us, are forgiven. Those who are on top are required to rule with justice, mercy, peace and love. Those who are on the bottom are to be respected.
It is a Kingdom that has been with all those who are of God, really. Look at Elisha, the prophet we hear about in 2 Kings. He heals a Syrian named Namaan of his leprosy. It is a rather banal affair. The Syrian, who is not even a Jew, asks. The prophet tells him to go wash in the river and be healed. Done.
Why no prophet calling down God? Why no prophet laying hands and healing? Why no TV show for him? No podcast for Elisha? No. The prophets actions speak for themselves. It is God who does the healing, not the prophet. God is the King in the Kingdom of God. His power is ruling the lives who follow him. Healing is to be expected. Or, if there is no healing, there is a greater understanding of the suffering and pain. Healings by God are not for show. They are not for comfort. The perspective is that this life is not the end in the Kingdom of God. In fact, this life before Jesus comes again is just the beginning. It is the beginning of the Kingdom. We who follow know that if we are not healed in this life, we will be healed when we go to be with Jesus in paradise until he comes again. Then, after he comes again, we will be renewed like Heaven and Earth will be renewed.
This “horrible, power grabbing” Kingdom is a place where the priests drive out demons, be a source of healing to the people, and follow their Lord to Jerusalem. Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the metaphor for giving up our lives in service to the people! The Kingdom, the place where we rejoice not over our ability to be charismatic or have spiritual gifts, but a place where our names are written in Heaven.
St. Paul, in his letter of chastisement to the Church in Galatia, says that the Kingdom of God is not about quarrelling, like they are quarrelling. It is not about who is the most important family in the local church. It is not about who can get the best pew to sit in. It is not about who can have the songs sung like they want, or the incense at just the right amount of smoke, or where we gossip about the people who have fallen away, given up on God, or how we are somehow better than others. No, that is not the Kingdom.
The Kingdom church is the church filled with brothers and sisters, says Paul, that mourn over the loss of a brother or sister because they have lost hope in God. The Kingdom church approaches people who have fallen away with tenderness, he says. The Kingdom church is a church where we are busy looking at ourselves to make sure that we are not haughty, bossy, self important, puffed up, or arrogant. The Kingdom church is a place where generosity is the rule of the day. The Kingdom church is a place where we share liberally from what riches we possess. The Kingdom church is a place where we “do not grow weary with well-doing” and “we do not lose heart.” The Kingdom church is a place where we do good to all people in the world, but especially to those of the household of faith.
Take a look at all the readings for this Sunday. They are replete with adjectives and examples of what it means to be near and in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is a state of mind and way of life. It is a Kingdom of love. It is a Kingdom of joy. It is a Kingdom of peace. It is a Kingdom of patience. It is a Kingdom of kindness. It is a Kingdom of goodness. It is a Kingdom of faithfulness. It is a Kingdom of gentleness, and self control. It is the Kingdom where the Lord and King is a person who heals those that are unwanted, loves those who are unloveable, feeds those who are hungry, clothes the naked, visits the imprisoned, and who rules with a mercy that endlessly says this to a hurting world: you are forgiven.
The message to us today is that every church that dares to put out a shingle or raise a roof has committed to being an outpost where the Kingdom of God is not only near, but it is the law of interaction between its members. Think about it. Is this your church? If the answer is “no”, then I have to ask, are you part of the problem, or are you part of the Kingdom? Do you believe in the wholistic healing of the Gospel? Do you believe in the loving attitude required of us as disciples and apostles? Are you part of the liberality of love that is demonstrated by God? Are you merciful and forgiving because you have received mercy and are forgiven?
If you can truly say that you are NOT part of the problem, then you need to find another church. You need to become part of a community that knows how to love and loves in the selfless way that Jesus Christ loved by laying it all on the line. If we can put ourselves aside and live the life we are called to live together, that is when people who hate the church will scratch their heads and say, “Why did we hate those Christians anyway?”
Do we take the Kingdom of God seriously? Does it rule in our lives? If it does, then we will heal those who are open to our message of love. If the Kingdom of God rules our own individual worlds, then we can change the world. Be the Kingdom. #BeTheKingdom. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2016.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian