Whether simple-church or mega-church, motivation is an issue. What stirs us? What grips us?
Craig Kirkby, in his book called “Living on the Edge of Time” suggests that some of the problem with the western church has been our fascination with a “tarry until the rapture” mentality with a fatalistic view of the world and our part in it.
Kirkby says, “I’ve got to remind myself that Jesus did not teach us to pray for God to take us to heaven. He taught us to pray for God to bring heaven to earth through us. We are to pray and then actively participate in bringing the rule and order of heaven to earth.”
This book has many theological challenges, particularly around our understanding of the end times, that are worth a look. But whatever you believe about all of that, I believe the central message is imperative.
The Gospel is too often reduced to a “salvation from sin” message, when it is, in fact, a “dominion over everything” mandate!
His “altar call,” if you like, was in complete contrast to the evangelistic appeal we often hear today: ‘If you want to go to heaven, invite Jesus into your heart. Just repeat this prayer after me and you will be saved’. (Where the implication is that repeating a formulaic prayer secures eternal “insurance”). This is in stark disparity with the King’s call: an invitation to relationship with a loving Father, whose arms are open wide, and to embrace an entirely new way of living, thinking and breathing as a son and disciple (learner, student, apprentice) of His government Rule – cooperating now with His vision to bring heaven to earth.
Am I captivated and motivated by His vision to bring heaven to earth? It’s compelling and wondrous when I reflect on it.
Muhammed Yunus (pioneer of micro-finance for the poor), who is not a believer as far as I know, said that his new year’s resolution was to help “create a world without poverty.” Isn’t his vision closer to God’s kingdom than that of many Christians? What if we were compelled and motivated by a vision of “creating a world without spiritual or material poverty?” Isn’t this just a taste of what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to seek His kingdom first, and to live Jesus’ prayer “your kingdom come… on earth as it is in heaven?” Doesn’t it bring a whole new dimension of the wonder of what it means to partner with God and live out of His presence in a way that transforms the world around us?
I believe the church, the whole church, can benefit from an infusion with the joy and privilege of joining in His vision to bring heaven to earth!