Kingdom Living in the Real World

Here is what Matthew recorded after Jesus finished sharing his Sermon on the Mount:

The crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as teachers of the law. (Matthew 7:28-29)

If there is anything we can learn from this body of teaching it is the impact and connectedness that genuine kingdom living and principles can have in a culture. Jesus embodied authentically the kingdom principles he taught and as Matthew recorded it was evident.

I believe that people will still respond in a similar way to genuine kingdom living in the real world. Our culture just grows uglier and as it does the urgent need to confront and connect this culture with God’s kingdom grows. But admittedly it is a daunting task.

The violent, frightening and even anti-Christian nature of culture encourages us not to confront but to retreat. It is much safer to stay within our church walls and not venture out. But where would we be if Christ had done that? His culture was just as brutal and oppressive. Yet he modeled and taught aggressive kingdom living.

If we are to follow his example, it means:

Emerging out of our “church culture”.  Often we do not realize how “churched” we have become- how insulated we are from culture at large. While this insulation is comforting it is not connecting the lost, the hungry, the desperate to Christ. In his Sermon on the Mount Christ shook off and consequently shook up the religious culture of his day. He went outside of the box to reach the lost. The inside of the box may be warm, safe and snug, but lost folks are not in it.

Using language that connects. Jesus taught in parables for a reason. It was every-day language that was easily understandable. Paul in Athens quoted local philosophers. We must understand that the culture at-large is not talking about a “night with ebon pinion” or even about more common church words like redemption, remission, or repentance. To connect like Christ and make kingdom living real we must present him in terms culture can embrace.

Doing ministry that relates. Check out the roster of ministries at most churches. It is all about inreach. While inreach is important, what of outreach? We are surrounded by the hurting, the homeless, the helpless and the hopeless, yet sometimes we are more concerned about the condition of our parking lot than ministering to them. This is exactly what the sermon spoke against. Kingdom living in the real world is about doing ministry that relates to people needing Jesus.

Not long after he delivered his sermon, Jesus sent out his disciples in what we call the “limited commission” recorded in Matthew chapter ten. Here is part of the divine advice Jesus shared during preparation:

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, Therefore be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (vs. 16)

Notice Christ’s admission of the cultural challenge. They were sheep entering into a wolf culture. So are we. Notice also how Christ encouraged them to be ready to engage that culture in a wise, practical and genuine way. To me this is kingdom living in the real world. It is our call today.

Remember what the crowds said about Jesus after his sermon? If we want to gauge what kind of impact we are having in our culture and how successfully we are connecting Christ to it, then we must ask ourselves a  key question.

In our attempts to model authentic kingdom living to the lost world- just what are the crowds saying about us?

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12 Responses to Kingdom Living in the Real World

  1. Donna says:

    I don’t know why this just struck me for the first time while reading this post…but is it possible that what the people meant by “He speaks with authority” meant that he just said what he meant without trying to cover himself with 10 different ways he could be wrong and he didn’t water down the message or make loop holes to miss the consequences? Perhaps they were also weary of the double talk of the Pharisees.

  2. benoverby says:

    Danny,

    Seems like we’re running on a similar track. If you get a chance check out my latest blog, Stomping on Sacred Cows. Half of my sermon yesterday had to do with Jesus’ teaching method. The second half had to do with an applicable rebuke upon churches of Christ.

    Great thoughts. Your last question is piercing! Again, I was saying something similar yesterday. Here’s a 3 minute intro to the sermon for what its worth. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWR3ky1zxgM

    I only hope that I was half as clear as you when trying to make my point.

    Ben

  3. Matt Dabbs says:

    The crowds see us bickering and fighting. They see us more divided than over our views than any other group of people on earth. The waiters and waitresses greet the Sunday crowd in their suits and dresses with dread because they can be so rude.

    Kingdom living. Outreach. Living beyond yourself. Being salt. Reflecting light. Being the aroma of Christ. Making a difference even when it is inconvenient. That is what we are called to. I don’t generally like broad generalization about Christians or ministers or elders, etc but for the most part it is true that Christians think Christianity is about inreach. I wonder if they have learned that they are there to receive because ministers have tried to fill cups rather than teaching people how to fill up others – equipping.

  4. johndobbs says:

    Redemption is God’s word! (inside humor for Danny)

  5. dannydodd says:

    Donna, Jesus definately seperated himself from the hollow, self-serving teaching style that was common in his day- and folks quickly noticed it. He was genuine and that connected.

    Thanks for you kind words Ben. I will check out your blog thoughts.

    Good thoughts Matt. I wonder too.

    And JD, thanks for the laugh!

  6. Steve says:

    Have you seen the little book, Made to Stick by Chip Heath? It has some great information for connecting with people throuch communication.

    Email me if you are going to Pepperdine.

    Peace.

  7. Steve says:

    through “communication” it should be.

    peace.

  8. Trey Morgan says:

    Danny, I pray we become an a church that looks upwards (at God) more than downwards (at ourselves). AND I want to be a part of a church that is focused on the outwards (other) more than the inwards (selves).

    We’re not real comfortable doing that, but that’s what has got to be done. We’ve got to quit expecting people to just show up at church because the lights are on and the doors are unlocked. We’ve got to go to them.

    Thanks for your thoughts….

  9. dannydodd says:

    I am praying with you Trey!

    Steve mentioned Pepperdine. God willing I will be there. We should have a gathering of all bloggers who will be there. I know Donna plans to go too. I wonder who else?

  10. Darin says:

    That is a message that should resonate in the body.

    I pray that it does. Well said.

  11. Wow! This is excellent. Thank you for posting this. I’m teaching a class at the church I attend that is headed this direction. I’ll definitely refer to what you have here.

    — Bryan

  12. dannydodd says:

    Thanks for the encouragement from both Darin and Bryan! I appreciate it greatly.

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