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Archive for the ‘Kingdom of God’ Category

by Jordan Hathcock

“It’s difficult to avoid all the crisis talk that fills the airwaves: climate change, debt, food deserts, clean water, masses of discarded plastic filling the oceans, populism nationalism, racism, shootings, stabbings, the list goes on and on. And apparently it is not just the poor and the middle-class who are feeling the pressures and concerns of all this, we all seem to have lost sight of the future.”- Barry Taylor

Within the Christian tradition, the future has always been more geared towards a more doom and gloom outlook. This is due to several factors: church doctrine, theological perspectives, biblical hermeneutics, and cultural influences. This isn’t just a religious position, from the Western eyes, an apocalyptic future has always been in our scopes. We love the hopeless end times so much that we have become contagious to any other possible future outcomes. Screw a compassionate eschatology, we want that blood, guts and fire!

Here is the thing, when it comes to the future, I think we all would agree that we want it to be a bright and hopeful existence for our kids. Yes, religion has played a huge part in the pessimistic future position that a lot of us hold. The Abrahamic faiths have not helped! When we view God as an executioner, riding the dark horse coming in the clouds to seek and destroy, who would want to trust in a faith like that?! With that being said, I do believe that we have numerous issues in the world today and in our day to day lives. This world is fucked up in many ways! How are we supposed to react and position ourselves?

I don’t know for sure, but I think having a compassionate and enduring view of the future puts us on a more beautiful trajectory. It does takes steps and action to get this type of faith moving. Recently, I just finished a course with LA Hatchery called: Spiritual Entrepreneurship. Through this course, we discussed, critiqued, questioned, and proposed innovated ideas that would propel us into a brighter faith of the future. One of the course instructors, innovated theologian Barry Taylor, described a great perspective in retrospect of the future with using the Mt. of Transfiguration:

“In the story of the Transfiguration, Jesus’ closest friends witness an amazing encounter and want to build a monument on the site and make it a place of pilgrimage and retreat. In some sense they seem to want an escape from the hardships of life and to bask in the light of this revelatory moment. But Jesus has other ideas. He leads them back down the mountain, back to the world, to ordinary existence where life is dominated by uncertainty and anxiety. He calls them to live in the dust of an uncertain world and to bring a different future to it.”

Boom! That is what I think we must do! We are going to experience all the uncertainties, anxieties, and doubt when it comes to the future. No way around that. I don’t think it’s so much about happy endings but instead, its more about collaborative beginnings. It’s all about the process. We need to start being creative in how we react to our current world situations, collectively and individually. We cannot let fear of letting go of old traditions that are no longer viable in bringing a brighter future to existence (Mark 7:8).

News flash: from all the data from social researchers, when it comes to religion and its participants- its not working! The nones and dones are piling up! It’s time to use a little of that death & resurrection that Jesus spoke about and put it into practice. If we want to see any type of productive future of this faith for our kids, I think we better hop on this approach pronto…

“When tradition is thought to state the way things really are, it becomes the director and judge of our lives; we are, in effect, imprisoned by it. On the other hand, tradition can be understood as a pointer to that which is beyond tradition: the sacred. Then it functions not as a prison but as a lens.” – Marcus Borg

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by Jim Gordon

What would you tell someone who asked you what a christian must do to be pleasing to God?

A lot of people would start out by saying we must go to church, we must tithe and we must obey the ten commandments. They would probably say we have to witness to others and give our money to the poor, and probably even some in the USA would say we must vote republican.

Seems like we christians are so hung up on works and doing things in our own effort to be pleasing to God. If we are not going to church we are backsliding. If we do not tithe to the church we are robbing God. We have all these things we are told we should be doing to be pleasing to God.

I think a lot of the christian world today has forgotten that Jesus came to fulfill the old covenant. When he said “it is finished” he was declaring the old covenant had come to fulfillment. By living a perfect life, Jesus showed us God’s true character which is love. He restored the fellowship between us and God. He sent the Spirit to live within us so we could enjoy that fellowship on a daily basis.

I think the real answer to the question of what must we do to be pleasing to God is…..nothing! We do not have to do anything because God provided grace through Christ. We are the righteousness of God and the Spirit of Christ now lives in us. It is not based on what we have done, it is all on what He has done.

We no longer have to try to keep the ten commandments. Those were a guide, or tutor to lead us to Christ. We no longer have to go to church because through Christ, we are the Church. We can assemble together with other believers any day, anywhere. We do not need to look to others for guidance and knowledge because the Spirit lives in us and is our teacher and guide. We do not have to tithe our money because the old covenant has been fulfilled. We can now give our money out of love and to who and where God is leading us to give. We do not have to force every encounter with someone to witness to them because the Holy Spirit is the one who draws all men to God. Since He lives in us we can be open to allow Him to work in us how He pleases.

So many christians today do not realize the freedom we have in Christ. They do not understand grace and the fact that we are no longer under condemnation. We do not have to do things to be pleasing to God. We now live under the guidance of the Spirit and we do things out of love, not out of obligation and trying to keep rules and commands.

So many of us live day to day under condemnation because we feel we have not done enough for God. We feel we do not measure up because we cannot do things like someone else does, or we cannot preach like someone else can. The fact is, God made us all the way we are for a reason. In the body of Christ, we all are equal and all have equally important qualities that God uses. No one is on a higher level than anyone else. We are all brothers and sisters and we are all under the headship of Jesus Christ.

Stop feeling like you are not pleasing to God because of something you do or something you do not do. Christ has provided grace for all of us, and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

We can rest in God’s love. We can enjoy daily fellowship with Him because He loves us. We can be assured that we are now in the Kingdom for eternity because of what Christ has done for us. We can stop listening to others who we think are on a higher level than us, or who we think are closer to God because God loves each of His children equally. We are all capable of hearing and learning from the Holy Spirit who is within us. We do not have to wait until Sunday to hear from Him, worship Him, serve Him because we are the Church and every day is the Lord’s day.

Stop condemning yourself, look to God, love Him and love others. Let Him teach you, guide you, live through you day by day. There is nothing more you need to do than accept Him, love Him and love others. We are now new creatures in Him. We now live in His Kingdom. Forget the the rules and regulations of religion. Love God, love one another and realize you are loved just the way you are.

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by Jordan Hathcock, Guest Blogger
https://welcometothetablesite.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/knowing-souls/

“So let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint
Let’s head on down the road
There’s somewhere I gotta go
And you don’t know how it feels
No, you don’t know how it feels to be me”. – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Do we really know “how it feels” to be in someone else’s shoes? Can we really comprehend the magnitude of other people’s experiences? Hard to say, really.  I know for myself; it is not easy trying to empathize and relate to others experiences and dispositions. We all attempt and often fail miserably. Often, our motives are what really play a huge part in how we engage with others and their issues. Coming from the Christian perspective, I think we are on the failing end of making a positive difference in others who are different then us.

It has become a competition in winning the souls of others, instead of building authentic relationships. Numerous of factors come into play of why this is. Not to get to long winded on this blog post, but the biggest driving force is the concept of hell. The Christian tradition has morphed into a factory of “get people of hell in the afterlife” instead of letting people experience “heaven on earth in the here and now”. Fear, greed, and the us vs. them motif is the foundation of this unfortunate state of affairs we are currently experiencing.  When you make a belief system of fear and hate into a thriving institution, the effects are direly devastating.

But, I don’t think all is lost (yes, very optimistic of me I know).  There always has been another spark and remnant that comes out of the evil empire that brings about hopeful change. I would like to quote this verse from the Christian scriptures that brings to light these two contending ideas of winning souls vs. entering in genuine relationships:

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

The premise I take here (from the many different interpretations and commentary I have found with this scripture verse, and guess what? That’s ok!), Paul was trying to bring about blessings to those he made contact with for the sake of the gospel. It states: “I have become all things to all people…in order to save some”. It has the “winning souls” rhetoric here and to the first century readers that could have been more of a way of getting to a better way of being to escape the oncoming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D (just a little side note hehe). But, I think how Paul finished up this passage is showing the real intention of “becoming all things to all people” (the true relationship builder): SO THAT I MAY SHARE IN ITS BLESSINGS! This right here is the point of entering in relationships with others.  This is what the Gospel of Christ should bring to ALL PEOPLE.

It about truly knowing people.  When Jesus says: To know God and His Son, this knowing is ginosko and this literally means “a felt knowing”, as in RELATIONAL! No matter who it is–black, white, gay, straight–experiencing the blessings of peace which produces love is what it’s all about. It is going out there and becoming friends with others (I know we can’t do this with everyone, but I think we can fucking do a better job than what we are doing now)! This is what brings us out of the hell we sometimes find ourselves in this life. The Kin-dom reality is about the here and now.  We will never develop and evolve (aka salvation) as a species until we realize that its real relationships that will get us there…

“Self-sufficiency makes God experience impossible! That’s why Jesus showed up in this world as a naked, vulnerable one, a defenseless baby lying in the place where animals eat. Talk about utter relationship! Naked vulnerability means I’m going to let you influence me; I’m going to allow you to change me. The Way of Jesus is an invitation to a Trinitarian way of living, loving, and relating—on earth as it is in the Godhead. We are intrinsically like the Trinity, living in absolute relatedness. To choose to stand outside of this Flow is the deepest and most obvious meaning of sin. We call the Flow love. We really were made for love, and outside of it we die very quickly.”

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by Jordan Hathcock, Guest Blogger
https://welcometothetablesite.wordpress.com

“With the recent rise of progressive “Christianity” in the last few years, it’s no surprise that one of the prevailing themes is social justice. Many denominations have been caught up in the movement forever. But social justice is not the gospel, and saying that it is, is heresy.”

How about that quote? Makes you feel all good and warm inside, right (NOT)? So many things to discuss with the current slam-campaign against the current “social justice” Gospel issue. What gives? Why are we seeing such a surge of warnings and statements against this idea? Look, from the perspective of the Christian tradition, the Gospel has been on the hot seat ever since Jesus presented it–all the way to Paul and Peter/James (Gentile converts vs The Jerusalem Church) and the debates of what all this good news really looks like for the participants of the faith. The same old tale of us vs. them.

We have seen the Gospel in the West, for example, being more of a system of beliefs then a way of how one lives out their life. This stems from numerous factors (both the “religious and secular”)–from the reformation and it’s revolt against the corrupted hierarchy, to the enlightenment and it’s doorway to free thinking. This opened up a whole new way of how we look at the good news of what Jesus came to proclaim. It’s no longer something just a few “religious” people get to enjoy or other “secular” individuals get to reject. We are discovering (and rediscovering) that it was always news that set the captives free (I think any human would agree that we all feel trapped at times)!

The Gospel should always be seen as a way to bridge the gap between the outcast and the conformed, the poor and rich, the black and white, the gay and straight, the man and woman, the transsexual and the heterosexual, the child and adult (Gal. 3:28-get the picture?). We cannot be bamboozled by this notion that the Gospel is just one tight net idea that once examined and believed, no other type of suggestions or behaviors can stem from it. The Gospel is a plethora of creative and innovative ways of being in the time and place we are given.

It’s not just a set of beliefs (atonement theories) to believe in, nor is it one certain type of action within ones culture (social justice). The Gospel involves those ideas and actions, for sure! But, its really just simply good news; which everyone needs nowadays. The purpose of news, which is good, is to propel oneself and his/her social environment to beneficial new heights that have not yet been reached. It’s a reality where all are unified but still diversified. It’s a group effort along with the individuals surge. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that (a little D Mob for you hehe).

No matter what illusions we were given with this Gospel message of Jesus, one thing is for sure: It’s good, it’s here and it can be a reality that we all can experience. We don’t have to bring the accusatory spirit when one is deciding to put this beautiful gospel into action. Let social justice be part of this beautiful gospel. Let certain beliefs that come out of this gospel be for those individuals or denominations to have (let their actions speak). Let’s all just relax and mind our own business when it comes to telling and experiencing this Gospel of the Kingdom! LOVE and be peacemakers, for fuck-sakes!? (Matthew 5:9)…

“What if Jesus was not offering his followers an ethical system to follow, but rather was inviting them to enter into a life of love that transcends ethics, a life of liberty that dwells beyond religious laws? The difference between following an ethical system and being consumed by love can be seen in the way that ethical systems seek to provide a way to work out what needs to be done so that it can be carried out. In contrast, love is never constrained, it never sits back, it always seeks to do more than what is demanded of it.” – Peter Rollins

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by Jim Gordon

The institution of marriage is such a great comparison to life with God. I think a lot of the time we miss some good points about marriage that directly relates to life with God. To many times we do not associate marriage with Kingdom meanings.

Actually, marriage is a shadow of spiritual things. Ephesians 5:31 and 32 state for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. The church being mentioned here is not a building or an organization. The Church are the people who Jesus brings together. It is not a weekly meeting but a living organism made up of those of us saved by grace. And though the verse mentions man and wife, I believe marriage is the union of two people who commit to each other in love.

One of the things I have been thinking about recently is how we are one with God. It is hard to imagine that our God lives within us. Jesus said when he left the earth, he would send us another comforter. Through his Spirit, he came to make his home within us and he is constantly with us.

We always think of God sitting on a big throne, way off in heaven somewhere and that one of these days we will go to meet and live with God forever.

The thing is, that is not what the written word tells us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s physical dwelling place on earth. The Spirit dwells within us and will never leave us nor forsake us.

Now it is not saying we are God but we are one with God. The best way I have found to make sense of this is to think of marriage. When two individual people fall in love, make a commitment to love each other and live together the bible says the two shall become one.

Does that mean that the spouse becomes their partner, that they somehow become the same person? No, both people remain individuals yet they live as one. Same with us and God, we are still the person that was created yet because God loves us, God’s home is now within us and the Spirit of God lives within us. We are one with God.

In John 17:21 Jesus is talking with the Father and asks that they may all be one, even as You Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us so that the world may believe that You sent Me. Seems to me it is truly a marriage made in heaven.

We do not have to wait to a future time when we live with God in some far-away place. We are now living as one with God right now. We are the temple, the dwelling place of God and each of us are equally important parts of the body of Christ.

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by Jim Gordon

Galatians 3:10-13: For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse for it is written, cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law to perform them. Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident for, the righteous man shall live by faith. However, the Law is not of faith, on the contrary, he who practices them shall live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law having become a curse for us, for it is written cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.

One of the major issues we Christians have is living in two worlds. Not only the spiritual world and the earthly world, but the Old Covenant and New Covenant world. Michael Kapler points out this difference clearly in his book ‘Clash of the Covenants“. The problem with the Old Covenant is that if we do not live by and obey all things written in the Law we are living under a curse.ClashoftheCovenants

The Law was given as a tutor and guide to show us that we were unable to restore our fellowship with the Father. We cannot live a life acceptable to God by doing good works or putting forth effort on our part. Righteousness does not come through the Law, and if it did then Christ died needlessly. Jesus came into this world born under the Law. He lived and taught it for the first 33 years of His life. When He died Jesus  fulfilled the Old Covenant the Old Covenant came to an end. When He rose from the grave the New Covenant began.

By accepting the grace He provided we can live in fellowship with God. Christ lives in us and we are holy and righteous in His sight. The Law is no longer needed for those saved by grace. We are free, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law. We now live under the New Covenant which is a free gift provided to us by Christ.

We are now living in the Kingdom of God. We now live loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and loving others as ourselves. No more work or effort on our part, no obligation to do certain things. We are free from the Law and restored to fellowship with God.

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by Jim Gordon

Have you ever passed a church building and saw a sign out front that says ‘Everyone is Welcome’? When I see one, I always wonder if they really mean what they say. I have seen so many congregations over the years get set in their ways and enjoy the people who are regulars, but what would happen if ‘everyone’ did come to their church?

What would the thoughts and feelings be if a gay couple walked in, or if a group of homeless people came to hear the Sunday morning sermon? What if an atheist or muslim group decided to stop by and join the service? Would everyone be truly welcome?

We know that Jesus literally welcomed everyone and mostly those who the religious world did not want to have any association. Jesus met with and cared for the people who probably would not go to a church, either because they would not be truly welcome or because they just did not think they would fit in.

everyoneiswelcome

Maybe that says something about our organized church of today. Maybe we have become so involved with religion, being exclusive and following the denominations way of doing things that we have lost our first love. Could we be so caught up in the trends of modern religion that we forget our relationship with God?

Maybe we need to concentrate more on living in fellowship with Christ on a daily basis. More of loving Him and loving others and less about what building we go to on Sunday morning, if we go at all. The true Church is not a building and it does not matter which day we meet or where we meet. The Church is a community of believers. Those who live for Him each and every day. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We should not be focused on a building but on a daily walk with Him.

To love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love others as ourselves fulfills the law. We no longer need to worry about obeying the old covenant law. Jesus has fulfilled the law and we now live under a new covenant of grace. This covenant went into effect at the death and resurrection of Jesus. We now have the Living Word within us through the Holy Spirit. We no longer need any man to teach us the ways of God because the Spirit lives within us as our guide.

It is time to put our focus back on our first love, Jesus. It is time to live out our relationship with God on a daily basis, not just on one day we call the sabbath. As followers of Christ we walk with him daily, loving God, loving others and being prepared to give an answer of the hope that is within us to those who ask us. I pray we all let the love of God show through us so that others will know they are loved and accepted by Him.

Share your thoughts in the comments below

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