'Of all the..............'
'I just didn't need this today!' Sometimes, it seems like the old adage, 'shit happens' is too true! Although things happen to us, and situations are often not exactly what we would prefer,'shit' does NOT just 'happen'! EVERYTHING happens for a reason, and when we begin to realize & acknowledge that , then Life becomes all that much easier! Kingdom Life, especially, does not always include 'sugar and spice and everything nice', nor is it always what we might call 'smooth sailing'!
The haunting question before us, concerning this 'Kingdom Life', is, 'what does it look like; what all does it involve?' Can we live this Life by going about things the way we always have? Do individual hopes & dreams play a role in Kingdom Life? If we aspire to live Kingdom Life, does this mean giving up on individual concerns in order to seek the good of the Covenant Community? These questions, and more, must be considered; for instance, 'what IS the good of the Covenant Community?'
As we consider these questions, we have to realize that more of the same ( behavior ) will only get us what it's always gotten us; and in this day & age, that's not always a good thing! It's not a totally bad thing either; certain people have been blessed with a lack of the brain-washing that is prevalent in the government schools & much of the Institutional Church. These people were brought up to think outside the box, so when the novel idea of Covenant Community & Kingdom Living is broached, it flows quite naturally through their minds, if not already germinated in their own lives!
Kingdom Life, because it involves individuals of every shape and size, with varying likes and dislikes, means that some sort of 'individualism' must necessarily be involved. Some will want to do things this way, while others will prefer to do it that way! Things can turn disharmonious pretty damn quick if you're not careful, but finding common ground within a framework of Covenant Community, we can easily turn that disharmony into harmony! Our individual concerns become less of a concern when blessed through the individual skills within the Community!
Everyone has a Gift, and while in a Congregation & Community you may be blessed with two or more with a similar Gift, usually you will find a Variety of Gifts, as simple as one who is just more social than most, or one who has the Gift of Preaching, or Pastoring. As the apostle Paul put it, 'And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ' ( Ephesians 4:11 & 12 )
( Just a note here; if you believe that Paul was speaking here of the Institutional Church, thus erecting the 'Sacred & Secular' distinction, you might be part of the problem! )
Our Heavenly Father rules over every situation; sometimes He rules that this or that is best, and sometimes He rules that the other is better! Whatever He has ruled, though, we can be sure that it's for our good! We may not like what He rules, but sooner or later, we realize that it was what needed to occur, and we glory in the situation, knowing that Everything Happens for a Reason, and that He works everything together for the good of His Covenant Community!
Is there an easy answer to Living Kingdom Life in Covenant Community? It seems Simple enough, but when it comes down to actually putting it into practice, it sure isn't an easy task! Stagnation has been the status quo for so long that it seems sometimes an impossible task to find our way out of this quagmire, this Slough of Despond, as a famous writer once put it. The Church has been infested by The Spirit of Individualism for so many centuries that it will probably take as long to cast it out! ( talk about despondence! )
Never fear, Jesus is here!
Where people live in Covenant Community, while there will still be individual hopes & dreams, these hopes & dreams must not cause an individualistic mindset, but must rather be melded together with the hopes & dreams of others, into the glorious liberty of the Sons of God! Kingdom Living doe not mean setting aside individual hopes & dreams for the common good; it means merging our individual hopes & dreams into One Glorious Reality!
Because we, as a Covenant Community, have become the Son of God, being indwelt by His Holy Spirit, we are always equipped for the job at hand! We can, through the Strength that is in us, come together as a Community for One Divine Purpose, all the while revealing the Many Facets of that Purpose!
Let us determine to Live With Purpose, as individuals, though not individualistically, merging our hopes & dreams with that of the Greater Covenant Community! Let us Live Kingdom Life in Communion with His Body, which includes different Members. Let us Touch Life, for in Touching a thing, we become accustomed to its Feel, and thus it flows more naturally as we practice it everyday!
Amen, let it be!
Charles Haddon Shank