“He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him”
– John 1:11
Is there a more devastating statement in Scripture? It kills me… and I am sure that in 10, 20, 30 years it will break my heart even more.
The creator God, The living Word and Light, takes on flesh and initiates plans to bring His creation back into alignment with its original purpose. He comes to usher in the kingdom of God – God’s will happening “on earth as it is in Heaven”.
and His people – set apart to BE the light and hope of the world DID NOT KNOW HIM.
Sometimes you have to wonder… How did they miss it?
God’s chosen people…. They knew the scriptures. Loved them even. Some of the Israelites deeply loved God and were passionate about His plan for the world. However they got so caught up in their interpretations of things. Their expectations of things. And these things perhaps were not essentially wrong – but lacked scope for God to move in His own all-loving and all-powerful way.
The Jewish people expected God to deliver a messiah that would restore Israel’s rule. A messiah that would overthrow the roman empire through military means and rebuild the temple. Instead Jesus came…and preached love. Peace. Submission. Generousity. His teachings of the kingdom coming through forgiveness and grace, healing and restoration had pharisees and leaders pointing the finger and calling out words like “blasphemy!”
Jesus wasn’t what they expected. So they rejected Him…to the point where they saw to it that His beaten and bloodied body was hung on a cross.
I think what really scares me is that we so often act like the Pharisees of old. We are quick to defend our views or interpretations of scripture and fiercely throw words around like heresy.
When what we should be doing is looking for the activity, movement and advancement of the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). We need to understand that what Jesus did was REVOLUTIONARY and CONTRARY to the expectations of his time and culture. And we need to be alert to the rhythms and movements of the Holy Spirit to make sure we do not miss our part in the ongoing revolution that is the advancement of the kingdom of God.
What are our views on homosexuality? Racism? Sexism? Vegans? Polygamists? The environment? On the sick, lowly and dying? The prosperous and the poor?
What are our views on anything?
We can have a wide range of theologies or interpretations or use language to justify our means or opinions, but ultimately, the kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:15), it is advancing, and (in my own opinion) our only outward expression in any circumstance should be a desire to step out of the way and invite God to have His way on His terms.
So, in the words of N.T Wright, are you “working to extend God’s kingdom in the world, or are you standing in the way?”