Jesus begins His ministry with a message of the Kingdom. He announces the crashing in of the Kingdom of God on the Kingdom of the world and calls people to repent and believe.
What does someone do with this passage if he has already heard the news of and recognized the Kingdom of God and have repented and believed? What do you do?
What do you do if you have already repented and are already walking the path of the Kingdom? What do you do?
What do you do if you have left behind everything to follow that path? What do you do?
What do you do if you already believe. What if you believe every word? What if you believe it and have taught it all your life? What do you do?
I have been thinking about these two verse for two weeks. What message does Jesus have for a guy like me?
I know my doctrine. I believe the right stuff. I live a clean life. I am a part of a church. I am a part of a small group. What does Jesus say to me?
What is interesting to me is that, though I have all the right answers (just ask me), I am still lost.
My soul is wandering, Even while I am on the path to the Kingdom, my soul is wandering. Maybe it is the arrogant assertion I have done all I need, I am on the right path, and don’t need to repent is the most telling clue as to what Jesus is saying to me.
Perhaps Jesus knows my path.
Perhaps Jesus knows my path is not the path of the Kingdom.
The path of the Kingdom is not one where I wander in the darkness wondering about light, or one where I sit in a tomb waiting for resurrection—the Kingdom of God is light and life and resurrection.
Perhaps Jesus would say something to me like, “The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.”
It is, gospel. It is good news.
***The next passage : Mark 1:16-20***
I have come back to this passage and your blog post several times. I think part of my difficulty is not knowing repentance. Like the rich young ruler, I think, “I have done it”. I do not think, “I need a savior. I am so lost without him. I am a sinner. I don’t deserve to be in God’s presence. My life is far from pure, but is ugly.”
Derrick’s post and your reply have me thinking about Jesus’ interactions with the religious leaders of the day and His story about the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The religious leaders looked good, did “good,” believed in God, worshiped God. But they still needed to repent so the inside would match the outside and the motivations behind their behavior would be His. The issue with the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable (Luke 18) was his reliance on his rightness. Maybe, even when we feel like we have laid it all down, a repentant heart says, “I know I am a sinner. Search my heart…”
Mark 12: “33 And to love him (the Lord God) with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.” (Okay, I peeked ahead).
I seems to me that the issue is one of love. (Which, oddly enough, happens to be the one area in which I am notably lacking.) So the question becomes, “how can I learn to love”? Maybe the answer is as simple as the answer to the question the lost tourist asked the New York denizen namely, ” how do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer, of course, was “Practice my boy, practice.” Maybe that’s what is behind the whole “becoming like a little child” deal.
And maybe that is what it means to follow. Not arrive. Follow.
Yes, Follow. Every day is a new beginning. What will tomorrow bring? Follow until we arrive. Trust in the Lord.
I once heard someone describe the gospel this way – “the kingdom of God is breaking in, and it’s changing everything.” Something came alive in me when I heard that. “I want that!”, I said.
Truth is though, there’s only a part of me that wants that. There’s another part that says “don’t you dare change this, or that, God”. That part of me wants sameness. That part of me wants rules that will make everyone the same. Systems that will keep everyone in line.
I like your thinking on “following”, Derrick. Following is a motion word. Following requires constant change. And so, there is no “I already believed”, or “I alread… anything”. Just keep following.
For me, this can feel an awful lot like wandering at times.
I’m not even following, I’m still toddling. Up,down,up,down. Stamp your feet temper fit. Up,down and hope I land on an up. I thank God everyday for His patience. Maybe you guys are having mid-life crises.