identifying with Jesus

Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger have been studying the emerging churches movement (if you don’t know what it is, read the book, its hard to explain). As I read their book I am finding that, apart from some occasional discomfort on how emerging churches apply their ideas, I am often resonating with what they stand for. The first core practice that they demonstrate is…

identifying with Jesus

  1. Looking at Who Jesus was, what He did and what He taught, the most prominent feature of His message was the good news of the kingdom of God. Jesus is the King (messiah) Who has come, Who has embodied God’s kingdom power and authority, and Who has inaugurated His rule on earth (as it is in heaven). For the Jews, this was good news, except the WAY that Jesus did this was not with the sword but with the cross, not with worldly power but with humility, grace and servanthood.
  2. This kingdom focus of the gospel is very different from the personal salvation focus that is heard from many christians.
  3. We need to focus primarily on Jesus, and then interpret the rest of the Bible in light of Him.
  4. The mission of God is centered in Jesus GOING into the world to demonstrate and declare the way and will of God. Our mission is also to GO and make disciples. And yet the church today has shifted this away from the kingdom mission to church building, ‘come to us, we are the church!’
  5. There is a shift in emphasis from attracting crowds to equipping, dispersing, and multiplying Christ-followers as a central function of the church [51].
  6. God is at work in His world through Jesus already, we do not bring Him to the world, but go into the world to find Him and serve alongside of Him. Jesus is not waiting in the church for us to bring people to Him, He is out there at work in peoples lives, waiting for us to leave the church and join Him.
  7. “At the outset of the Gospel narrative, the good news was not that Jesus was to die on the cross to forgive sins but that God had returned and all were invited to participate with Him in this new way of life, in this redemption of the world.” [55]
  8. To be a follower of Jesus is to be a missionary!
  9. “The Holy Spirit continues the work of Jesus, seeking to implement the kingdom of God on earth. The Holy Spirit motivates people to live like Jesus, to lean into the kingdom, to serve, and to forgive. Just as Jesus was, Christians are to be in their cultures everywhere and everytime. The Holy Spirit will lead those who are willing to live in the kingdom and to participate in God’s mission through the proclamation of the gospel until the return of Christ.” [59-60]
  10. Its not about church planting or church building, its about kingdom living. The goal is to foster communities that embody the kingdom.
  11. “The gospel of emerging churches is not confined to personal salvation. It is social transformation arising from the presence and permeation of the reign of Christ.” [63]

By focusing on how Matthew, Mark, Luke and John present Jesus and His message, we see the good news in a new light. The stress on kingdom becomes larger, and the stress upon churches becomes smaller. Like Jesus, we need to figure out how to live in the world, not how to set up our own little worlds (our churches). We are ALL missionaries, and need to start thinking missionaries, on a mission from God, for the King and for the kingdom of God.

The emphasis on restoring the kingdom changes the focus of the gospel away from me (my salvation) to the whole creation, including me! For too long the way of Jesus has been privatized and spiritualized. Following Jesus is a way of living in the world, not of escaping from the world.

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