Archive for June, 2010

The Kingdom of God

So, we’ve been having a series of revival meetings at our church, led by Pastor Andy Elmes (if you’re in Tucson, you need to be at these meetings!). He’s been preaching about the Kingdom of God, and it’s been amazing! Sunday night, he started with a message about being “Kingdom Citizens” and how we carry the Kingdom wherever we go. Last night, he talked about our need to “Push In” to the Kingdom, emphasizing the reality that the Kingdom only advances through spiritual violence, and that if we want to experience the full measure of the kingdom, we need to get a little violent.

Last night was powerful for me. I needed last night. I came in to the service not quite with it, if you catch my meaning. I just wasn’t feelin’ it. Worship was flat, even though I really tried to enter in. I was just feeling…apathy. In fact, that word even occurred to me. I wanted to get excited. I wanted to get fired up. But I was just apathetic. Then the sermon started, and though it was great and a lot of it was speaking to me, yet there was this gnawing in the back of my mind. A flatness. I kinda felt like Eyeore. “Oh bother. I guess I’m just not meant to have an experience with God tonight. I’d really like to, but I guess I’m just not in the right frame of mind. Oh bother.” To me, my lackluster attitude, though distressing, was simply insurmountable.

Then Pastor Andy began preaching about the various “crowds” we sometimes have to push through to get to Jesus. And what’s the first one he talks about? Apathy. “Sometimes you just gotta push through your apathy.” Wow! What a revelation. I’m not a slave to my feelings. I don’t have to do everything my feelings tell me, nor be held back by the dictates of my feelings.

I was one of the first people at that altar. I was determined. My prayer began with a lot of “I need you, Jesus,” and then became a torrent of statements of dedication and devotion: “I’m yours, Lord! Take all of me! I keep nothing for myself! I am not my own! I surrender it all to You!” They weren’t hollow words. I meant it. I still mean it this morning. As I’m writing I’m realizing that spiritual apathy comes as a result of trying live life with one foot in the Kingdom of God, and one foot in the world. The word “ambivalent” literally means “of two minds or opinions.” The only way to “get the fire,” to remain passionate for God, is to be single-minded. The Kingdom must be our sole concern. We must have no higher priority, nothing crowding out our single purpose of advancing God’s kingdom. When we are single, we are passionate, and we are dangerous.

There was a strange by-product of all of this. I rediscovered the ability to simply enjoy God. When we’re divided between the Kingdom of God and the world, there is constant dissonance. When we’re neglecting God, we feel it, even if we try to stuff it. And when we finally get around to being with God, we feel conviction for the time wasted on pointless, meaningless, worldly pursuits. We are seeking God, but we know that we aren’t fully present, not fully committed. We feel it. The only way for a Christian to alleviate that dissonance, is to be single-minded toward the Kingdom. All of a sudden, the dissonance is gone, and perfect harmony is left. I found I could relax in God’s presence. I didn’t have to perform, or impress God. I didn’t have to prove that I was worthy. I could just…be…in His presence.

Categories: Life