Friday, August 29, 2008

We continue on with the questions from Dunn's book.

How would you define “poverty” as spoken of in the Bible? Is it possible to be both rich and “poor”? What are the dangers of being “poor,” and the dangers of wealth? What relation has material well-being to “salvation”?

...Answer: I define poverty, as spoken of in the Bible, as not having an abundance of money (just enough to get by) or not having any money at all. I guess this could also relate to not having food and other essentials too. It is possible to be both rich and poor. One could be rich in material possessions but poor in spiritual things in that they have no relationship with God.

Material well-being has nothing to do with salvation. To say that it does ostracizes all poor people from God’s grace. Believing this would cause us to look at all poor people as “out of favor” with God. This is not true and a distortion of what it means to be rich in God. If God wanted to, He could bless us with material things (like He did with Job after he had been tested), but it has nothing to do with the salvation He offers. Millions of disciples have accepted God’s salvation with no blessing of material wealth. Does this mean they are not saved? By no means, it just means that wealth and salvation have no relation.

The danger of wealth is that it can cause us to rely totally upon money and ourselves. We begin trusting the material security money brings (e.g., a home, cars, food, friends, and no debt) and lose interest in the things of God and lack genuine trust in Him. Being poor also has certain dangers. It too, can cause one to doubt God’s provisions (for the opposite reason of the wealthy) and lead to sin.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Olympics: Teacher of the kingdom of God

We continue on in discussing questions about the kingdom of God from Dunn's book Jesus' Call to Discipleship.

What meaning has talk of “the Kingdom of God” today? Is there an alternative image or concept which would be more meaningful to people living in the twenty first century?

Answer: The Olympics going on right now in Beijing China give incredible insight into our understanding of the kingdom of God. This event can also give us something to talk about in terms of kingdoms and what they mean. One thing apparent throughout this worldwide event is that every person belongs to a nation, country, and/or state (= a kingdom). No matter where a person is from or who they are, they belong to some type of kingdom with visible boundaries and ruling authorities. This is one of God’s brilliant built in teaching devices He uses to teach us about His kingdom. We all belong to earthly kingdoms; He invites us to join and be a part of His otherworldly kingdom. His kingdom has boundaries and ruling authorities too. However, His kingdom is not of this world, so it is quite different from our earthly kingdoms. Earthly kingdoms are fully present and established. His kingdom is present while at the same time not fully here. So much to think about with this. As you watch the Olympics unfold, as you cheer for your home country, remember His kingdom is all around you and that you belong to something bigger.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Your kingdom come!

Nothing captures my attention as much as Jesus' talk about the kingdom of God. What does He mean? What is the kingdom of God? So many questions swirl in my head. James D. G. Dunn, a New Testament scholar, wrote a great little book about Jesus and the kingdom of God. At the end of each chapter he asks questions and I have tried to answer them with what little I know.

In what sense can we say that “the Kingdom of God” was present or active in Jesus’ ministry? What are Christians praying for when they say the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Thy Kingdom come’?

… Answer: The Kingdom was present in Jesus’ ministry in the ways He interacted with people. He met the needs of the people through His intimate interaction with them. He touched and blessed the people, even the poor and oppressed. He brought the Kingdom of God to them ina physical way. He also taught about the kingdom in parables that made what He had said easy to remember. He was always seeking to transform the heart through the mind. Jesus also exemplified what life in the Kingdom of God looks like. He displayed to us the type of life we could have in God’s Kingdom. He showed us what it means to be ruled by God, to submit to Him, love others, and live in constant fellowship with our Creator. We also catch glimpses of another world, different from ours, in how Jesus walked on water, became transformed on the mountain, and resurrected from the dead.

… When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are asking for God’s rule to come in our own lives. We want God to rule our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We also want to bring His Kingdom to others we come into contact with. We want them to see what life in the Kingdom of God looks like. We want them to want to join us in this Kingdom by the quality of life we live among them.

Any thoughts? It's always good to talk about this stuff!