whose.kingdom

Sunday night my bride and I hosted a small group book study for the book Economy of Love, published by The House Studio. It was our first meeting and the discussion was lively, but a bit off-topic at times. The study is a challenge to look at our resources in terms of the Kingdom goals. How can our resources be used to further the Kingdom of God?

The initial wave of thoughts when I hear the words “further the Kingdom” are of building funds and faith promise giving. But, in the accompanying DVD video clips, we were presented with images of people living on the streets. Shayne Claiborne, presents a compelling argument:

And the incredible thing I think a lot of us have felt is, as we throw those questions up at God and we say, “God, why don’t you do something about the masses of our population that are living in poverty?” we felt God say, “I did do something. I made you.”

My friend, Jason, wrote a guest post on this site, called debt.to.love, where he asks,

What if I saw loving and serving those around me truly as my debt? What if this controlled what I could and could not do? Maybe I wouldn’t think I can say whatever I want when I want. Maybe I wouldn’t pass by the person in need, pretending I didn’t see them.

While I am not sure Jason was writing on the same issues that Shane Claiborne raises, the question is provocative, nonetheless.

Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. (Proverbs 16:8)

It would be amazing to surprise my bride with that amazing stainless steel refrigerator with the bottom freezer. It would be nice to complete the home theater that I’ve been piecing together for the past 10 years. It would be amazing to take my children on that European vacation that we’ve dreamed of. It would be nice to finally build that dream house.

What would be even more amazing is if one person living in the streets could sleep one night without a growling stomach because of a few dollars from my wallet, or a few minutes of my time.

I’m not saying it is bad to enjoy the blessings that God bestows on us. But I am starting to get a glimpse of a whole new perspective on these blessings, and it is extremely uncomfortable. I am forced to ask myself: “What am I doing with these blessings? Building my kingdom, or His Kingdom?”

25 thoughts on “whose.kingdom”

  1. This is a tough one for me because I have read some of Claiborne’s stuff and heard him speak live and I have a hard time with him and to be honest – as soon as I read his name I had negative feelings about what I was going to read in the post. I have to say though – I think he does make a good point.

    I had a conversation with someone last night about how the “welfare state” is a result of the church not doing what Christ/The Bible calls us to do. James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

    I think we could all go without some things so others can have necessities.

    Good post Herb.

    1. Jim, I hear you. I’m a big fan of The House Studio, so I’m always intrigued by what comes out of their processes. When I saw this book, and the video trailer, my first reaction was, “No, I’m not going here.” In fact they are promoting another book at the same time as this one, called the Sinai Experiment that I could have easily immersed myself in.

      But, the Holy Spirit just wouldn’t let this one go. Before we started, I admitted to the group last night that I had reservations, but that I was willing to be challenged and changed where God saw fit through it, because we don;t grow unless we face challenge.

      Good scripture pull by the way.

  2. Good post Herb. I often wonder how different my life would be if I was a) younger and hearing about these things and b) was convicted of giving everything up and live on the streets. I suspect I would struggle because of the comforts I enjoy but do sometimes feel guilty having. I do pray my heart will soften even more.

    1. With your comment I am reminded of what Oskar Schindler said when he was being praised for saving so many Jews from being turned over to concentration camps. I don’t remember the exact words attributed to him, but it was something tot he effect of, “I’ve wasted so much on cars and such, that could have been 5 more lives saved from the camps. I could have done more.” Those words have haunted me – will I have a similar lament?

  3. A little off topic but at the same time in line with the idea of reaching the impoverished.

    A friend of our church recently shared hello-somebody.com with us. This is a ministry to feed orphans and widows in third world countries. A $20 purchase can provide food for up to 100 people. The food is being delivered via missionaries and is not only providing for needs but is opening up doors to share the gospel.

    Ok. Enough plugging… One concern I have with social gospel, is that often we seek the easy way to meet an obvious need instead of spending the resources to bring someone in need to the place where they can become self sufficient. Many are in such a condition as to be unable to ever be self-sufficient, but others just need help to find the way.

    What am I to do with that which God has blessed me with? Further the Kingdom (not as a quick religious answer, but as an active involvement in this world to share the love of Jesus with all.)

    1. “often we seek the easy way to meet an obvious need instead of spending the resources to bring someone in need to the place where they can become self sufficient”

      That is why I am willing to listen to Shayne, because he is not content with hand-outs. He is challenging Christians to intentional involvement, becoming community with the poor, just as we become community with the people we go to church with, rather than just throwing band-aids at the problem.

      I can’t say that I am even 50% sold out to following his radical lifestyle, but I am compelled by the deeper approach.

  4. Excellent thoughts Herb. I am going through a season of life where my belief in the Kingdom of God is going through the roof. Our community here in Ohio is experiencing some major transformational stuff in regards to the kingdom. I can’t begin to describe it here, but one aspect is of Matt 10:39 – “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” There is something profoundly powerful in sacraficing your life in both small and large ways. I am beginning to believe that I need to progress to the point of spiritual poverty (poor in spirit). It is not a literal point of being poor or homeless. Jesus wasn’t preaching the sermon on the mount saying that you have to be poor to enter his kingdom. But what he was saying is that in terms of “what you have, what you do”, nothing compares to the riches of our Savior.

    1. I’m with you, man. I believe that the whole church is being challenged in these ways. Some are ignoring and others are going overboard. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to carry us forward.

  5. Herb, we need these gut-checks and we need to respond to the compassion of our Lord. When He exercised this on the earth, lives changed. If we aren’t growing in that area of love and compassion as our lives progress, there’s something wrong. This is what God has been dealing with me and showing me lately. So great post and reminders for me. Lord, help me!

    Thank you.

    1. Sounds like many of us are similar journeys. I hope we can see beyond our own personal need for salvation, reconciliation, and restoration, to the great need for redemptive grace in all of creation, not just our own hearts.

  6. One of the reasons God gives money is for enjoyment but I find in 1 Timothy 6:18 another use for our resources:

    “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

    I think I am some where in the middle (eek, being lukewarm with my money!). I don’t quite have enough to support my wife and I on the mission field but I still tend to enjoy a fast food hamburger from time to time.

    1. For people in ministry, this gets hairy doesn’t it? The very nature of our “work” is supposed to be Kingdom building. The temptation I face is allowing ministry work to replace personal Kingdom building.

  7. Wow! What are you all doing today on blog-world? All amazing posts! I’m so in for this. Herb, you are doing an amazing job here and I have no doubt that you are doing amazing off-line too.

    Prayed and will continue to pray for you, your family, and church. bye bye.

      1. Just saw your reply in my e-mail before turning off the computer. Lately I’m feeling strange visiting and commenting on your blog because it’s like I visit a men’s club. Not that I have problems with that. But it feels strange sometimes. I’m not sure to comment or not.

  8. ““God, why don’t you do something about the masses of our population that are living in poverty?” we felt God say, “I did do something. I made you.””

    That means we need to be as intimate in our relationship with Christ as we can be.

    Good companion book for your study: Radical by David Platt

  9. I think there are lots of people — Christian and non-Christian alike — that look at issues of poverty, homelessness, and hunger, and desire to do something about it. There are many who ARE doing something. It seems to me that our Christian faith doesn’t just compel us to help, but compels us to have an urgency about it. And I’ll be the first to admit to a lack of that urgency when it comes down to it. This was a very convicting post for me, thanks for sharing it.

    1. “It seems to me that our Christian faith doesn’t just compel us to help, but compels us to have an urgency about it” – truth right there… the problem, I think, is that many of us are ignoring that compulsion.

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