Thursday, March 19, 2009

Empire or Kingdom

Ephesians 2:1-6 It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah (The Message).

Today, I realized the significance of these words: "You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live." In our culture, it is very easy to let the world tell us how to live. We wake up to our radio alarm clock and hear the DJ give us the latest spin on crime, gang shootings, political wrangling, the economy, job losses, real estate prices, or homelessness. Not only do we hear the supposedly objective newscasters assessment of our world but then the "morning personalities" give us their own cute chit chat about the news of the day. Somehow we seem to think they might know more about these things than we do.

The newspaper headlines scream out their messages with words like "economic tsunami," "investor outrage," "predator," "terrorist," and "death squad." The online dictionary I use to look up a word definition for this blog has a picture of a buxom bikini babe telling us how she lost twenty pounds.

It is easy to succumb to the messages of this world. It is easy to adopt the attitudes of the DJ, or the newspaper, or the talk around the water-cooler at work. It is easy to be pulled into the thinking of the surrounding empire.

But we, who follow Jesus, are part of a different kingdom. We are ambassadors from a foreign land. We are strangers and aliens in this land. We are called upon by the king to give a report and an assessment of this world. Our report must be tinged with sadness for the way these people live in this empire and joy for the standards of the world from which we come. We can rejoice that we have a kingdom that is very different from this world. It is a kingdom where justice, joy, peace, and love are the themes.

Part of Romans 12:1-2 says, "Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think" (New Living Translation). Empire attitude or Kingdom attitude, the choice is ours.

Romans 12:1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you (The Message).

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