Out of my mind…
This summer during our Yearly Meeting sessions, we will gather under the theme of “Bring Forth the Kingdom!” It is our call and will be our reminder to be about the agenda of Jesus, aligning our individual and communal life with the values of God’s Kingdom.
During a recent staff meeting, we invited Hal Thomas—who serves with his wife Nancy as NWYM ministers in Bolivia —to lead us in our time of worship. Hal chose to reflect on a similar Kingdom theme. During his devotional, Hal articulated a key insight that I think captures something important about living as Kingdom people. What Hal basically said is that the Kingdom life is the “normalness of God faithfully lived in the abnormality of this world.”
That’s it, isn’t it?! To be a Kingdom person is about being remade. It requires a complete overhaul…an extreme make-over, if you will. It is about letting go of past patterns, old perceptions, and all the wrong dreams in order to adopt a new agenda for our lives. Jesus and His disciples talked in explicit terms—Kingdom life would require a new birth, the death to self, and come at the cost of all we possess. Worse yet, especially for those of us who like to prove ourselves worthy and independent, they all agreed this Kingdom life is beyond our ability to possess. We can’t earn it, buy it, or even imitate it on our own. All we can do is receive it…as a gift…and in doing so let that same overwhelming grace empower us to do and become what we cannot otherwise do or become on our own.
Historically, we Friends have had a reputation for being “abnormal” or at least peculiar in some ways. Our testimonies about simplicity, equality, peacemaking, leadership, decision-making, the sacraments, integrity, obedience and community, while not completely unique among Christ’s followers, have been described as counter-cultural. And that they are! But rather than being abnormal, wouldn’t we say that our vision for life is really about being normal in God’s eyes? Wouldn’t you say that our identity as the Friends of Jesus is nothing more than our attempt to do as He commanded and modeled for our sake? For the followers of Jesus, what could be more normal than that—if indeed we are really intent on serving Him?
I suppose the actions of Jesus people do seem a bit out of the ordinary at times. I mean…
- What kind of person would take a stranger into their home because they had no place else to go?
- What kind of person would refuse to participate in their country’s military aims because they cared more about the Lamb’s War and power of God’s love over guns and tanks?
- What kind of person would stand humbly and courageously before others—refusing to renounce their commitment to Jesus—when their life was being threatened?
- What kind of people commit to telling the truth even when it costs them something?
- What kind of people purposely live at a lower standard in order to not be ruled by their possessions and in order to have more to give to God’s work?
- What kind of churches practice true fellowship—where people are actually discipled, loved, forgiven and trained to serve in the context of community where real sharing occurs?
- What kind of church actually encourages women in leadership and regards them as equal to men?
- What kind of community actually believes Jesus can speak to them and lead them if they are willing to listen?
The answer, of course, is Friends do, you do…at least when we are at our normal best. Thanks for your faithfulness to Christ and your pursuit of His Kingdom!
Peace and joy!