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Those without hope

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Those w/o hope are those who aren't aware of the Kingdom

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Those without hope

Foreigner in a strange place illustration … “just don’t belong”
Simple prayer for years:
Make us aware of your activity Lord
Aware = awake
Hopeless ones = sheltered ones
Western Church … attendance only
Attendance only … devotion as well
Attendance … devotion … serving
ALL SO MUCH MORE
What if?
What if we’ve missed the point of following Christ and we’ve made it an “add-on”
“Add-on” illustrations… sunroof — perceived value
Citizens Of A Different Kingdom
Illustration by Elizabeth Wolf
Illustration by Elizabeth Wolf
Mingling in the room were a handful of professors and the two dozen other students who were there—as I was—to begin studies at Westminster College in Cambridge, England.
Mingling in the room were a handful of professors and the two dozen other students who were there—as I was—to begin studies at Westminster College in Cambridge, England.
"You must be David Henderson, our student from the States!" The person at the other end of the outstretched hand was one of the faculty members.
Surprised that he’d identified me, I blurted, "How did you know who I was?"
He grinned and rubbed his hands together. "Oh, it was obvious, you know. Quite obvious."
That night I was mystified by my professor’s Holmesian astuteness. A few months later, after living among the British, the mystery was gone.
I had a better chance of hiding an ice-cream cone in my pocket than of disguising my country of origin. My pressed and color-coordinated clothes, my carefully groomed hair, and my confident, assertive bearing gave me away as a Yankee.
Try as I might, there was no hiding my identity.
Has anyone ever suspected your true nationality—your citizenship in the kingdom of God?
Illustration by Elizabeth Wolf
Your Passport, Please
The kingdom of God is found wherever people recognize Jesus as the King & place themselves under His rule.
“It is where what He wants done is done” - Dallas Willard
The life of faith, it turns out, is not simply being a decent person or paying dues or showing up. Nor is it merely legal pardon before a holy God, which is how so many of us in the evangelical world understand it. Jesus’ picture of the life of faith is this: subjects living a life of total devotion to their King. Pledging an oath of allegiance to a new rule, we resolve to give the King the honor that is His due, to subject every part of our lives to Him, and to be available every moment to do His bidding.
The life of faith NOT about being a decent person … paying dues … showing up.
It’s NOT a legal pardon before God
Jesus’ picture of the life of faith is this:
People living a life of total devotion to their King.
Pledging an oath of allegiance to a new rule
Giving the King the honor that is His due
Subjecting every part of our lives to Him
Being available every moment to do His bidding.
Following Jesus means transferring our citizenship from this world to another.
In marvelous, explosive words more detonated than spoken, Jesus said to the religious leaders, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not" (, NLT). Later in John, He goes further: "My kingdom is not of this world ... my kingdom is from another place" ().
"You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not" (, NLT).
"My kingdom is not of this world ... my kingdom is from another place" ().
Q4U: What does it look like to take on the mind of that new world.
And where this world was once their home, it is no more. Like Abraham, they are "no more than foreigners and nomads here on earth ... looking forward to a country they can call their own ... a heavenly homeland" (, NLT). Sojourners in this world, they must "live [their] lives as strangers here in reverent fear" (). Jesus’ subjects are no more part of this world than He is.
What does that look like to live like your from another world?
Over time, Jesus’ followers begin to take on the mind and manner of that new world. What does that look like?
Postcards from the Edge
Jesus gave us the equivalent of a collection of postcards from home.
From time to time we get postcards from friends in places like North Carolina or Colorado. They create in me a deep longing, reminding me that there is another world beyond the flat farmland where I now dwell, a vertical world where my heart has taken up residence.
They are the parables, images from the kingdom.
Jesus gave us the equivalent of a collection of postcards from home. They are the parables, glimpses of life in another world, images from the kingdom.
They are pictures of life at odds with the one lived out around us.
The kingdom of this world creates ingrown, self-reliant citizens whose first and last thought is of themselves.
Their time and resources are spent on things that matter to them,
Their energy is spent on their own comfort and need
Their allegiance is to their own feelings and desires
Their relationships are largely self-serving.
This world breeds people whose deepest & only obligation is to themselves.
What sets us apart as citizens of another world?
I’d like to pull out a few of Jesus’ postcards and identify from them five important distinctives of those who live as foreigners in this world and citizens in the next.
Five distinctives of those who live as foreigners in this world and citizens in the next:
1.) A Single Focus
But in the illustration of the lilies in the field (), Jesus says the sparrows and lilies have got it right.
They aren’t consumed with life’s logistics.
But in the illustration of the lilies in the field (), Jesus says the sparrows and daylilies have got it right. They aren’t consumed with life’s logistics. Nor should we be. Our hard efforts won’t change things, and God has everything taken care of anyway. So seek first the kingdom. "He will give you all you need from day to day if you live your life for him, and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern" (, NLT).
Nor should we be.
Our hard efforts won’t change things, and God has everything taken care of anyway.
So seek first the kingdom. "He will give you all you need from day to day if you live your life for him, and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern" (, NLT).
Is this sort of response to Jesus a compulsive act of insanity? Or an utterly reasonable response? Clearly the first—unless Jesus should happen to be who He claims to be: the one who created us, came to us, died for us, and now rules over us. If that is the case, what could be more sane?
When, straight from college, I went to work at Procter and Gamble, I was in my dream job. But I soon realized that my favorite parts of my days were my lunch hours and coffee breaks. Not because I’d lost interest in my work. I loved it! But something else had come to mean far more to me than dreaming up product promotions and designing shampoo bottles. Jesus had gripped my life, and the breaks during the days gave me opportunity to tell others about Him. A year after arriving there, I left to begin preparations for full-time ministry.
Insanity? No. Simply a far greater pearl—one that made mine look like a Toys-R-Us plastic counterfeit.
2.) Wise Investments
William Law talks about "the expulsive power of a new affection." Here is the adventure for which we have been made, that something-bigger-than-ourselves for which we have longed all our lives. In a world of career moves and car payments, it is the only thing with which we truly need to concern ourselves. Kingdom people have their eyes fixed on one thing. What matters to God is what matters to them.
2.) Wise Investments
Wise Investments
Kingdom people are marked by where they invest their energies & resources.
Two parables make this plain.
The first is the parable of the sower and the seed (). Jesus uses four different soils to tell us that there is only one measure for our "success" as His followers: People of the kingdom grow and multiply. Growth is not the goal of the Christian life; growing and multiplying is.
The second, the parable of the talents (), Jesus uses the stories of three servants to prod us to rethink the way we use our God-given resources.
In a related parable, the parable of the talents (), Jesus uses the stories of three servants to prod us to rethink the way we use our God-given resources. The point of the parable? It is not what you have to start with, or even what you end up with, that matters to God. It is what you do with what you have. And His measuring stick is this: Recognizing that what you have does not belong to you in the first place, but to God, do you risk multiplying what you have for His sake? Do you risk making liberal, generous use of your time, your abilities, your assets, your faith for the sake of God’s eternal purposes?
The point of the parable?
It is not what you have to start with, or even what you end up with, that matters to God. It is what you do with what you have.
And His measuring stick is this:
Recognizing that what you have doesn’t belong to you in the first place, .... it belongs to God
Do you risk making liberal, generous use of your time, your abilities, your assets, your faith for the sake of God’s eternal purposes?
Open your checkbook. What you see there belongs to Him.
Open your checkbook. What you see there belongs to Him. Open your appointment calendar. Same thing—all of that time is His. Your career belongs to Him. He owns your family. Your home, your car, your ability with numbers, your grasp of complex concepts, your ease with people, your eye for design: It is all His. And He calls you to use it all, not in a self-serving way but in a God-serving way, toward the fulfillment of His purposes.
Open your appointment calendar. Same thing—all of that time is His.
Your career belongs to Him.
He owns your family.
Your home
Your car
Your ability with numbers
Your grasp of complex concepts
Your ease with people
Your eye for design:
It is all His.
When was the last time you rummaged prayerfully through your bag of assorted gifts, asking God what He may wish to do through them? When was the last time you said no to something for yourself so that you could spend the money or time on a kingdom-serving ministry? When was the last time you gave back to God your home, your work, your family, acknowledging them as gifts for the fulfillment not of yourself, but of His purposes?
One obvious implication of this principle is tithing, but it can mean much more. One man used some of his savings to start a foundation dedicated to helping others write God-honoring articles and editorials in the secular press. A friend of mine with a bit of inherited wealth built a second home—but not with himself in mind. He built it to share with fellow pastors who may need a place to get away. Another man I know sold a little-used family car because a friend in music ministry was having trouble making ends meet. Yet another lives on 10 percent of his income and gives away 90 percent for kingdom work.
Whether you are selling hot dogs in Biloxi, studying accounting in Seattle, or secretively sharing Christ in Outer Mongolia, God has put you where you are and has given you all you have for a simple reason: to further the kingdom.
3.) Relinquished Rights
People of the kingdom are also known for allegiance to their King.
They relinquish their personal rights and lesser responsibilities in order to serve Him.
In , two men told Jesus of their wish to follow Him.
To one, Jesus said, "I have no home."
Implication: Neither will you.
To the other, Jesus urged, "Let the dead bury their own dead."
His point? Now that you are following Me, you have no family. Lay aside your normal obligations as the son of a dying man; your first commitment is now to Me.
His point? Now that you are following Me, you have no family.
Lay aside your normal obligations as the son of a dying man; your first commitment is now to Me.
No home. No family. You are all mine.
No home. No family. You are all mine.
Jesus is not advocating family irresponsibility.
God created the family
His Word calls us to honor our parents
Love and submit to our spouses
Faithfully raise our children.
No, what Jesus is talking about is more profound.
No, what Jesus is talking about is more profound. What is your deepest allegiance? What has the last word in your life? Your comfort? Your rights? Your responsibilities? Your family? It should be none of those, says Jesus. He wants the last word—to determine when and how we weave together the competing demands of family, ministry, friendship, exercise, and so on.
What is your deepest allegiance?
What has the last word in your life?
Your comfort?
Your rights?
Your responsibilities?
Your family?
It should be none of those, says Jesus.
He wants the last word—to determine when and how we weave together the competing demands of family, ministry, friendship, exercise, and so on.
For the citizen of God’s kingdom, the whole of life is an expression of the Latin phrase Deo volente—"Lord willing." As Tennyson expressed it, "Our wills are ours, to make them thine."
4.) Generosity of Spirit
It’s Saturday afternoon, and two brothers are glued to the game. When their father asks for help with some yardwork, one of them barely looks up. "Aw, Dad, do I have to? This game is awesome." But later he gives his dad a hand. The other looks right up from the TV and says, "Sure, Dad, I’ll help. I’ll cut the grass as soon as the next commercial comes on." But it’s his favorite Air Jordan commercial, followed by that great one from Pepsi. One thing leads to another, and he never makes it outside.
Which one of the boys, Jesus asks in the parable of the two sons (), did what his father wanted? Is it words or actions that matter in the kingdom?
It’s both. Doing what we say. Living what we believe. It is consistency that matters to Jesus, a matching of what we profess with what we do. People of the kingdom live lives consistent with their faith.
Among the saddest statistics are those that show no significant difference between the ethical practices of those who profess faith in Christ and those who don’t. A father and mother lie about their son’s age, so he can play on the junior high football team. A real estate agent gives new home buyers a substantial cash gift to make their house affordable for them—a gift that is actually intended to help him reach a crucial sales goal. Parents of an elementary schooler let their daughter roam the cable channels unsupervised. And a couple calls the church to ask if they could be married there; when asked for their addresses, they give the same one.
All normal behavior for our world. The problem is, all of these men and women profess faith in Christ and are active participants in the life of the church. When we make grace cheap and faith undemanding, according to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "the Christian life comes to mean nothing more than living in the world and as the world, in being no different from the world."
Citizens of the kingdom live in a way that exposes their true home. How could we help but be honest? Or generous? Or faithful to our word? We belong to the King, and it is His standard at work here, His honor at stake. This is the law of the land; it is normal; it is what we do.
Citizens of the kingdom live what they believe.
Generosity of Spirit
Parable of the unforgiving servant
Matthew 18:21–35 NIV
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
), the story of a master who overlooked an enormous debt and a servant who failed to overlook a much smaller one.
The point of the parable is plain:
God overlooks our wrongdoing through Christ and His cross.
We deserve justice:
You owe, you pay.
But God, with amazing generosity of spirit, says, "You owe, I pay."
We are called in our dealings with others to follow the example of God in His dealings with us.
We don’t have the luxury of exacting payment for wrongs done against us.
We are called to forgive.
Not because we feel like it, not because the other person deserves it, but because that is how God has dealt with us.
SILOS
“God is at work in every domain of culture.”
A related parable is that of the sheep and the goats in , in which Jesus describes a variety of simple acts of service. Those acts of caring for the undeserving and the unimportant become, in an unexpected twist, expressions of devotion to Him. To love Jesus is to love and serve the person in need. Modeling the same lavish generosity of our Father, we are called to share what we have to meet the needs of others—uncalculatingly, without thought of their worth or our benefit, simply because they are hungry, thirsty, or lonely.
Business
Art & Media
Government
Social Sector
Education
Healthcare
Church
Kingdom people practice a robust prayer life that helps them listen to and look for God.
McNeal covers a lot of territory in just 180 pages. Each chapter discusses one of the eight “signature practices” of leaders who are collaborating with King Jesus in the advancement of his kingdom. To keep to my word limit, I’ll mention just one helpful insight from each of these practices.
Pray w/your eyes open
Kingdom collaborators practice a robust prayer life that helps them listen to and look for God.
Don’t try to shut out the world
Most of us spend our prayer time talking to God.
Most of us spend our prayer time talking to God. McNeal counsels talking with God—spending sufficient time listening to him. Kingdom people are sheep, after all, and Jesus says his sheep “know his voice.”
Instead, start talking with God
Jesus said his sheep “know his voice.”
Kingdom collaborators foment dissatisfaction with the status quo.
Kingdom leaders agitate to make things the way God intends them to be. (This is actually how McNeal defines “kingdom:” life as God intends.) Step one is “selling the problem;” helping people to recognize, with some urgency, what’s wrong. McNeal suggests that pastors invite community leaders—police chiefs, city managers, school officials, city council members—to speak at worship services monthly. These leaders can articulate clearly and knowledgeably what issues are pressing for the shalom of the city.
Kingdom people combine social and spiritual entrepreneurship.
Kingdom people maintain a pain-tinged optimism.
They marry vision with action.
This practice overlaps with the prior one. Here McNeal argues that Kingdom collaborators have a bias toward action. That means they know they will sometimes fail but press on regardless. They are comfortable with mess and unexpected twists. They never stop casting vision and connect each little step made to that bigger vision.
Kingdom collaborators shape a people-development culture.
The bias towards action doesn’t mean a neglect of relationships. Instead, Kingdom collaborators channel enormous energy into relationships. They’re concerned about whole-life discipleship. Notably, they are willing to change the scorecard on discipleship progress from participation to maturation. They’re more interested in hearing how much people are growing in becoming “kingdom-first” folk than they are in counting the attendees in discipleship programs.
They curry curiosity.
Martin Luther — “I Have a Dream” speech was not just focused on what was wrong in the world; it painted a picture of a more hopeful future.
Kingdom leaders are life-long learners, and they seek out relationships with people different from them. That way they’re able to gain knowledge and insight they might otherwise miss.
They call the party in their city for collaborative initiatives.
All kingdom leaders, in moments of rest, carry the pain of something that still isn’t right or needs to be done.
Kingdom collaborators know how to convene. They work hard at building trust, they communicate (and overcommunicate), and labor to get the right people at the table. And they recognize that the latter may mean showing up at other people’s parties before hosting their own.
But we convey hope because hope inspires (there is a reason this famous speech wasn’t “I Have a Plan”).
They maintain an optimism amid the awareness that the kingdom has not yet fully come.
McNeal’s book is not for the faint of heart. Not because it’s tough to plow through (it’s not). But it requires a fundamental openness “to regard the church through kingdom lenses, rather than looking at the kingdom through church-as-institution lenses.” That will be a paradigm shift for many. Kingdom Collaborators unabashedly celebrates the scattered church.  
During World War II, a tiny Protestant village in southern France helped rescue 5,000 Jews from being deported to concentration camps. Philip Hallie, the author of Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, writes that every time he asked why they risked their lives to protect strangers, the people of Le Chambon gave the same answer. "Things had to be done, that’s all, and we happened to be there to do them." People of the
True Colors
Has anyone ever suspected your true identity, your citizenship in the kingdom?
Whenever my friend Rick goes to work, he puts on a uniform—the crisp blue suit and cap of an airline captain. Even when off-duty and merely catching a flight home in the jump seat, Rick has to wear his uniform. The airline believes that Rick is representing it wherever he goes, and it wants him to convey a professional image.
When citizens of the kingdom wade into the world, we, too, are called to represent the one we serve. But we don’t wear a uniform to identify our ultimate allegiance. Or do we? In a theme repeated throughout his letters, Paul sums up the life of faith when he writes, "Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ" ().
We do, in fact, re-present Him everywhere we go. The surest sign of our citizenship is to have the heart, the mind, the manner, and the bearing of our Kin
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