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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kingdom Ethic 2: Rule of Life

Yesterday we offered a model for understanding salvation. In simplest terms, God has graciously called us into relationship with Himself through the work of Jesus Christ. In Christ, God reconciled the world to Himself. We are now, by grace through faith, members of His people. We did nothing and can do nothing to make Him love us.

So we enter His Kingdom. Today we are living in His Kingdom. Right now. But His Kingdom has not come yet. It is already here, but it is still to come. Sounds confusing but isn't that reality? The day you get married you are a spouse. The day you have a baby you are a parent. The day you get hired you are an employee. BUT! Everyone also knows that you grow into these roles and identities. There is a greater fullness to marriage, parenting or working than we experience on the first day. That is how the Kingdom is, there is a greater fullness yet to be revealed. God's rule as king has not been fully expressed among us yet.

So as we seek God and His will, prayer and study are key components. There is more. God has revealed that He is very concerned about how we act. In the Kingdom, the Bible makes clear, there are things we do not do. "No stealing here." "No murder here." "No sexual immorality here." etc. etc.

Is that a law ethic? Not really, "freedom from the Law" means something other than, "we can lie, steal, kill and fornicate." It means we are not law focused, but we are still behaviorally concerned. How we act and what we do still matters. We are in a community. Our behaviors effect others. God demands and expects us to live as proper citizens. So what does that rule of life look like? What are the behaviors which we are expected of us?

I think it is arguable that the main focus of God includes issues of justice and mercy. Jesus says we should love God and love our neighbor. Jesus had an eye on the needs of the poor. True religion has a component of right worship and a component of service to the needy. True religion includes personal morality and social morality. Now, let us be clear, this is not about justifying ourselves. It is not about doing things so we look good. It is not about earning salvation. But let us be equally clear that ignoring the needs of others, engaging in sinful behavior and not caring what anyone thinks are also NOT what it is all about.

It is about following Jesus and embracing His ethic. It is about imitation. It is about Jesus living in me. It is about "us" walking together in faithfulness and love. In the days ahead we might get into some controversy as we look at the ethic concretely.

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