The Gospel of the Kingdom

I wrote this for seminary. I figured I'd toss it over here if anyone wanted to read it. I refer to The Gospel of the Kingdom by George Eldon Ladd in this.

I enjoyed this book, but especially the chapters entitled "The Righteousness of the Kingdom" and "The Demand of the Kingdom." The first of those two chapters show how Jesus' message at the Sermon on the Mount were messages of action. One example of this would be that one should desire to walk in purity so much that they are willing to change any part of their life in order to walk in it. Another active oriented message of Jesus' was to love those who offend them and not react to them; but rather walk in love in whatever is the best way to handle the situation (if one takes the turn-the-other-cheek passage to mean that we are called to pacifism, they must also believe that Jesus wants anyone who has had a lust issue to gouge out their eyes or anyone who has stolen anything to cut off of their hands [this is the context of the passage]. Yes, there will be times when one literally turns the other cheek, but there will also be times where less than pleasant consequences will need to occur to teach the offending party self-control. As Danny Silk states, "The goal of discipline is to teach self-control, not that I can control you" [1]). These were not messages that cause one to respond in passiveness. The call was for action. I saw this also in the second chapter I noted. There was one quote in particular that I really enjoyed:

"The basic demand of the Kingdom is a response of man's will. Man must receive it. They must yield to it. God's Kingdom does not ask us to find in ourselves the righteousness that it demands; God will give us the righteousness of his Kingdom. God's Kingdom does not ask us to create the life that it requires; God's Kingdom will give us that life. God's Kingdom does not set up a standard and say, "When you achieve this standard of righteousness, you may enter the Kingdom." God's Kingdom makes one demand: Repent! Turn! Decide! Recieve the Kingdom; for as you receive it, you receive its life, you receive its blessing, you recieve the destiny reserved for those who embrace it." [2]

This quote simply warms my heart. There truly is no place in Christianity for lukewarm, wishy-washy passiveness. The whole Bible is all about getting people to make a choice and serve the Lord wholeheartedly. Where did so many get the idea that normal Christianity is only to put in an hour on Sunday, read a devotional book or the Bible for 5-15 minutes a day (if one remembers to), and pray before meals? It is not biblical. It is the furthest thing away from the first commandment of loving the Lord with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength and quite possibly could resemble what the lack of usefulness and lukewarmness that caused the message to the Laodicean church of Revelation 3 to be what it was.

Here in lies the problem. When one starts to assert these things, people often react in self-righteousness ("you better not tell me that there is anything wrong with my life" to which I only respond, "I only am quoting the Bible."), or guilt and condemnation ("I just really am not living as I should."). They miss the whole point. One's past is under grace. But one can decide today to make a decision. And once that decision is made, the grace and life also comes in order to walk that out (if they truly act on the decision instead of not changing anything, except an intellectual assent). Passiveness and complacency are the antitheses of what a healthy response is to God's offer of the Kingdom.
Of course, one should note that response is not to try to pursue more religious behavior but rather deeper relationship... but I suppose that has probably been a theme through the last few posts on here...