Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Keep All That Junk To Yourself

Another post inspired by the conference from this last weekend... this time, it was Doug Stevens, the founder of The Renewal Project, who got me thinking in a breakout session entitled "Prophet, Priest & Provocateur: The Impossible Pastor".

After working through a generational model (7 tiers in his model... and according to Doug, I'm not a GenXer!), he summed up all of that with:

The values of any age/generation can NOT be absolute. They must be submitted to Christ.

The Kingdom of God critiques all of our generational biases... including the biases of OUR generation.

The Kingdom of God acts as a discpline over all our petty generational junk...

Look, I don't think he was knocking any particular brand of church here - the reading list for the conference included (among others) Brian McLaren, Donald Miller, Andy Stanley, Erwin McManus & Becky Pippert, as well as Sue Miller, who's on staff at Willow Creek. I think he's offering an important thought - generational differences help explain some of the tensions in ministry, but they don't offer real answers.

What offers answers is a Biblical vision of the Kingdom of God.

There is a barbarian revolt taking place, and its command center is the Kingdom of God. Everywhere the Kingdom of God advances, there is a violent engagement against a dark kingdom. To be born of God is to be made a citizen in the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of God is at war. Do not confuse this kingdom with Paradise. Salvation is not a reentry into a Paradise Lost; it is enlistment in the mission of God.

Jesus is telling us in no uncertain terms that there is a battle raging. This is perhaps the most important reason why we must choose the barbarian way and resist any temptation to become civilized. Domesticated Christians are far too willing to abdicate the battle for the soul of the world. Civility focuses our energy on all the wrong places. We spend our lives emphasizing our personal development and spiritual well-being. We build churches that become nothing more than hiding places for the faithful while pretending that our actions are for the good of the world. Or we choose political and secular vehicles to try to advance our cultural values, strangely attempting to make unbelieving people act like civilized believers.

In contrast Jesus calls us to a different way. He tells us this a battle of kingdoms. He insists that if we are His followers, we must not live in a world only defined by the material. We cannot limit our sights to what is flesh & blood. We should know better than that. To see from a kingdom perspective is to know that there is a conflict of invisible kingdoms and that people's lives are forever changed by what happens in the unseen. We are called to be warriors of light in dark places. We are mystical warriors who use weapons not of this world.

Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way

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