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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Expanding the Borders

Let me just make this disclaimer; this post IS inspired by one that I came upon this morning, one written by my little sister, Mrs. Virginia Wallace. It's NOT all about me, My relationship with MY Creator, MY journey, MY success! It IS about OUR relationship, OUR journey, OUR success, as the Body of Christ! We are His Beloved One, His arms, legs & feet to do His Will as we travel through this world. In answer to the oft-asked question, 'why are we here?', we can answer truthfully & gloriously, 'we are here to expand the Kingdom of the Creator God & our Heavenly Father!"

Many Christians seem to have settled into a routine! This routine involves 'going to church' on Sunday, then the rest of the week, going about their own business, however mundane it might be. 'I just don't have the time or resources to do much more,' some might complain, 'in fact, there's barely enough, sometimes, to do what I do get done!' Too, often, this attitude sums up our thoughts. There IS more, though, SO much more!

There is much to be done! Sometimes, often, it gets a bit overwhelming & even the best of us is tempted to murmur & complain: sometimes we are driven almost to the depths of despair. When such moments come upon us, we must prayerfully remember that we are not alone. we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, both seen & unseen, that we really have no cause for worry or despair. There IS much to be done, but with every member doing his or her part, those hurdles which seem almost insurmountable may be quickly solved by working together!

'The Kingdom of God', Jesus told His disciples, 'is within you' ( Luke 17:21 ). Some translations render the Greek here, 'the Kingdom of God is in your midst'; this translation may be a bit truer to the text, for as I've speculated previously, Jesus was telling His audience that He was, or that He represented that Kingdom. Whether the Kingdom, as Jesus Himself ( John 14:23 ) is indeed within every individual Christian or if its being in our midst is simply a fulfillment of both the tabernacle in the wilderness & the Temple, whereas we have become, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus, 'a dwelling place of God in the Spirit' ( Ephesians 2:22 ), we are, in Essence, the Kingdom of God, or Heaven!

'Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!' ( I Chronicles 4:10 ). This prayer, now made famous by some capitalists, was also referred to by our Lord & Brother in a yet more famous prayer! This prayer spoke of a Kingdom to come, the Kingdom of God, which, as Daniel prophesied, would eclipse, in fact, swallow up ( consume ) all other kingdoms. In the days of Jesus & the apostles, this Kingdom was in the process of being established in the hearts, minds & actions of His disciples, but has now come to fruition & is coming to fruition through His Body in a continuously expanding Kingdom!

We should continue to earnestly pray, as in the Lord's Prayer, that His Kingdom would come, for though the words of Jesus were fulfilled in the first century, when & how He said, they are yet being fulfilled through His Body! The apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Philippi, 'He who has begun a good work in you will complete [ it ] until the day of Jesus Christ' ( Philippians 1:6 ). That Day is here, has been for almost 2,000 years now! The Philippians, the original recipients of Paul's letter, are no more, but we may infer that these inspired words were meant for us as well as them. With Strength of Spirit, we His Body & Members individually, are enabled to rise up & accomplish the change which Jesus engendered, oh, so long ago!

There's nothing inherently wrong with tradition, but when tradition stands in the way of Jesus' simple commands, then that tradition must go by the wayside; 'we must obey God, rather than men' ( Acts 5:29 ). It seems that, among certain sects of Christianity, it has been traditional to focus on doctrine, rather than Jesus' command to love one another. If one doesn't hold to certain orthodox doctrines, then that one is not deemed worthy of the status of 'neighbor', unless that one comes around to acknowledge that same doctrine. Though many Christians seem to have fallen into this 'rut'; it must be said that it is not true of an increasingly large number of those who make up the Body of Christ!

'How are we to accomplish this change?', many might ask; 'what did Jesus mean when He promised, 'he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater [ works ] than these he will do' ( John 14:12 )?' By unselfishly, as He did, serving each other & especially those who are outside the Body of Christ, we encourage the expansion of the Kingdom; through our loving kindness, we may show His Love, the Love of Christ to even our mortal enemy & bring them into the City. The simplicity of the Gospel preached & played out before their eyes will show them, although not all will accept this glorious Truth, that the Creator, the Master of the Universe is not a petty God, as some would posit, but desires to live in Blessed Relationship with His Creation!

Charles Haddon Shank

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