I ran across this blog post this morning and felt it was SO good that I had to pass it on. IF you don't know anything about "Release the Ape", check it out now! It is a ministry that is enabling apostolic missionaries in our culture. And NO BETTER TIME than Christmas time. I think I've had at least two dozen spontaneous conversations about Christmas and the culture of late. Every one of them are opportunities to be light and salt in relationships. Anyway, for your Christmas season encouragement, check this out! And Merry Christmas to you!
What is a Kingdom Person? By Laura Hairston
My family and I live in a north suburb of Dallas, Texas – Frisco. A 2007 Forbes study named Frisco as the seventh-fastest growing suburb in the United States. In 2011, CNN listed Frisco as one of the “Best Places to Live” in the nation, and Forbes ranked it 7th in its list of “America’s 25 Best Places To Move”. Seems like a dream, huh?
As much as I love living in Frisco, there is an unpublished reality. Everything is not a proverbial bed of roses; in the past two weeks, I have heard of two families splitting up because of affairs, a teenage boy from a local high school dying from drug overdose, a teacher having an inappropriate relationship with a student, a family needing resources to help provide Christmas for their children this year, and the need for a teen homeless shelter in our community.
Why mention these things? Because even in the midst of a seemingly perfect community, many people feel alone, are struggling to “keep up with the Jones”, and are afraid of breaking free of the façade of what they feel is expected of them. What appears perfect on the surface is actually quite messy.
Our role as missionaries is to listen to our neighborhoods and cities, moving past the roses and embrace the thorns, to create a safe place to wrestle with the hard questions like “why?” and “now what?” and to truly embed ourselves in the places God has sent us. And, yes, it requires us to get outside of the comfort of our homes and churches.
I love the Christmas story because it provides us an amazing example of this very thing. Jesus left the comfort of heaven to come to a dirty stable as a baby, humble, vulnerable, needy and to grow up in a place like Nazareth. Remember in John 1 Nathanael asks, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Seems an unlikely hometown for an unlikely Savior, don’t you think? Everything Jesus is and does is unexpected; he is humble, a friend of sinners, a suffering servant and he came to bring good news to the poor, proclaim freedom to the captives, give sight to the blind, and to set free those who have been oppressed (Luke 4:18).
He said to his followers, “as the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” (John 20:21) God did not send us to judge, but to demonstrate an unexpected way, a better way, just as Jesus did; to be those raising the priorities of the kingdom above wealth, status, and fame. We are to help bring good news to those who are hopeless, freedom to those trapped in bondage, and to help open their eyes to the wonder of Jesus’ love and grace.
A Kingdom Person
Recently I read Richard Rohr’s daily mediations adapted from Jesus’ Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount and he says this:
I hope you’ve met at least one “Kingdom person” in your life. They are surrendered and trustful people. You sense that their life is okay at the core. Theyhave given control to Another and are at peace, which paradoxically allows them to calmly be in control. A Kingdom person lives for what matters, for life in its deepest and lasting sense. There’s a kind of gentle absolutism about their lifestyle, an inner freedom to do what they have to do—joyfully. Kingdom people feel like grounded yet spacious people at the same time, the best of the conservative and the best of the progressive types in the same body.
Kingdom people are anchored by their awareness of God’s love deep within them and deep within everyone else, too. They happily live on a level playing field, where God has come to “pitch his tent” (the literal translation of John 1:14) among all of us. All games of classism, sexism, racism, and nationalism are henceforth seen to be a waste of valuable time and energy that could be used for positive good.
What a great concept – a ‘kingdom person’. Are we, as Christ followers, living for what matters? Are we diving deep into relationships with our neighbors, co-workers, gym buddies, etc. and being a living example of Jesus, even though it may get messy?
Our family knows it will get messy as we help those families struggling to re-piece their marriage back together, give our time and money to help those who will not have Christmas this year, or simply strive to be humble enough to know we are not above anyone and admit we are needy people too. But, that is precisely what God sent us to do. Let’s all pray God opens our eyes to these truths and gives us the courage to “be” in the fullest sense. Be vulnerable. Be generous. Be real. Be Jesus. Be kingdom people.
How does the concept of a Kingdom Person strike you?