Since I don’t have much to say right now, why not post a really long document to completely refute that idea?
This is a document I put together with the help of notes from many others in the church I am a part of. Basically I wanted to narrow down the message of Luke to several recurring themes (I ended up with seven). If you get a chance to read through this, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did I miss something really important? (I’m sure I did) Did I include something that isn’t really in Luke? (probably so – but I tried not to)
The Good News of the Kingdom of God
Because of his goodness and love for all creation, God is establishing a revolutionary new world order – an underground and growing movement. This movement is inaugurated by the coming of Jesus of Nazareth – the long-awaited Messiah and the unique Son of God. Jesus came to declare a message that God’s new world order has arrived and will one day come in fullness. We are called to join this movement now and to proclaim Jesus’ revolutionary message of hope to all who have ears to hear. By joining this Kingdom, we are called to a new way of living. The result of Jesus’ kingdom living was crucifixion. But death cannot contain the Kingdom of God. After his sacrificial death, Jesus resurrected and ascended into heaven. The people of God’s Kingdom also live in hope for their own resurrection and for the future return of Jesus who will come to bring the fullness of the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God looks radically different than the kingdoms of this world
The Kingdom of God is not a Kingdom of violence but one of sacrifice and service. It is a kingdom from above and an active movement of God into this world. Rather than being overt and obvious, this Kingdom is spreading and growing in subversive and underground ways that may go unseen and unnoticed by many. But let there be no doubt, the Kingdom of God is among us and even within us. The Kingdom of God is not an exclusive Kingdom but is radically inclusive and open to all who will follow and obey, especially those who are among “the least” – poor, sinners, women, Gentiles, unclean, hungry, distraught, marginalized, prisoners, sick, oppressed, children, uneducated, have-nots, servants, slaves. In the Kingdom of God the least are the greatest and the humble are exalted. In the Kingdom of God the unbelievable and impossible is expected and anticipated. At times the Kingdom defies our expectations, but it always works for the redemption and healing of the world.
People must have a fertile and open heart to hear and receive Jesus’ message of the Good News of the Kingdom of God
Those who hear Jesus’ message must have eyes to see and ears to hear in order to truly receive the good news of the Kingdom of God. God does not come to the proud but to the humble and trusting. Jesus’ message only settles and grows in soft and open hearts, just as a seed settles and grows in soft soil. Jesus seeks after those with an openness to his message and a willingness to believe.
Joining the movement of the Kingdom of God requires radical sacrifice and a change of heart, which is revealed as one follows, trusts, and obeys Jesus
Those who have soft and fertile hearts to receive the message of the Kingdom will respond in repentance leading to forgiveness. These ones will not be ashamed of Jesus and will give up their treasures and desires found in this world. Entering the Kingdom of God is not easy for those who hold on tightly to the things of this world but to those who release the cares of this world, the smallest faith imaginable is enough to bring acceptance into the Kingdom. While many will give up great riches or pleasures to follow Jesus, all must daily deny the kingdoms and treasures of this world to continually live in and contribute to God’s Kingdom.
Following Jesus and living in the Kingdom of God leads to a new way of living and acting in this world
To live as a member of the Kingdom one will first and foremost love the one God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – who is now revealed as the God of all people. This love for God will also lead to a new and empowered love for others. Jesus taught and modeled this life of love through his life and teachings, which he called for his followers to not only hear, but most importantly, to obey. Jesus’ teachings are exemplified by radical acceptance and forgiveness of others, the pursuit of justice for the oppressed and marginalized, humility, love for enemies, the giving up of possessions, giving to the poor without expectation of repayment or reward, service and sacrifice for others, the pursuit of peace, faith in God’s provision, compassion for those who are sick or in prison, and refusing the place of honor. However, Jesus has not given his followers a new law; rather, he has called his followers to remember the spirit and meaning of the law. In all matters Jesus calls his followers to pray for the Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven and for God’s will to be done.
There is God-power for those who believe and enter into life in the Kingdom of God
Even as Jesus spent many hours in solitude and prayer, so also God’s people will pray and find power to live the way of Jesus and the Kingdom. This power will come not only through prayer but also, and especially, through the sending of the Holy Spirit for all of God’s people. Jesus taught that God gives good gifts to his children and will certainly give the Holy Spirit to all who ask. Jesus promised that he would give his followers the words to say in times of great need and he proclaimed power from on high for all those who receive the Holy Spirit. As a result, following Jesus, living in the Kingdom, and obeying Jesus’ teachings is natural for all who hear the Good News of the Kingdom of God and trust in Jesus.
In the age to come there is resurrection and reward for the righteous, and judgment and punishment for the wicked
Those who believe, follow, and obey Jesus are hopeful and ready for the final judgment and coming of God. Knowing that God rewards the righteous and will bring justice for those oppressed by the wicked, members of the Kingdom of God live in hopeful expectation of the return of Jesus, the resurrection of the righteous, and the coming of the fullness of God’s Kingdom. Empowered by the very spirit of God, the people of God live both for the Kingdom of God today and for the future fullness of the Kingdom, which is the redemption and restoration of all God’s world.