Series: Other Speakers; Kingdom of God
Sun am 21 August 2011 – Justus Swart & Daniel van Eeden
Col. 1:13; John 17:20-23; Matt. 6:1-6; Matt. 7:1-5; Gal. 5:22-23; Matt.12:46-50; (Matt. 5:21-48); John 18:36; Matt. 13:10, 13-16;
Matt. 5:21-22; Eph. 4:15; John 8:31-32; John 7:17; (1 Pet. 2:9);
John 5:3; Eph. 1:18; John 12:24; John 6:63; Rom. 8:13;
Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:9-11
Justus: Presently there seems to be a difference between Kingdom culture and Christian culture. The meaning of culture: ‘the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively. The totality of socially transmitted behaviour patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions and all other human products of work and thought.’ Culture is something that is in our nature, something that is represented and manifested collectively. It’s represented in a body of people, a group. We don’t have a collective culture that we know as Christianity. Instead of unity rooted in the Word, what we have are denominations built upon the science of interpretation. We have built walls around what we interpret the Bible as saying, while excluding those who believe anything different – thus the rise of denominationalism. It means that our ethnic culture has already pre-determined our perspective on the Bible before we have even opened it.
We are transferred into something else, which has to be manifested differently (Col. 1:13); it has to have its own culture. It’s a kingdom and a kingdom has to be known by its own original culture. So what happens when one goes from being a non-believer to becoming a Christian? What changes culturally? What becomes different in one’s life, in one’s practice, in the way one behaves, in the way they manifest themselves, besides the Sunday morning service?
How would Jesus respond to someone who is facing contemporary problems that we have today which are not in the Bible – such as drug abuse, abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia; just to name a few. If we have a “what would Jesus do” attitude, what would we say to people in those situations? We lose ourselves in between the Word and reality.
Jesus’ main drive was for us to stand as one, to stand in complete unity because in that we retain our identity, we retain the cultural traditions that are carried through. We talk about patterns without His presence, but we cannot respond to that by completely excluding any pattern that is in the Bible. There are patterns that contain His presence. We are presence carriers, so whatever pattern we enter, we carry His presence into it. Jesus came to establish a culture, a pattern for us to work and live with. It is important that we have a collective representation of the heart of God displayed in unity, because that is far more important than being doctrinally right. That will get us a lot further in the world than pointing a figure from a moral high ground.
How is Christianity seen in the world today? The main thing Christians are known for is charity, prayer and being judgmental. Beware of practicing your righteousness before me to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you (Matt. 6:1-4). (Read also Matt. 6:5-6 about prayer and Matt. 7:1-5 about judging others). So the three things we are notsupposed to be known for, we are known for. That’s very unfortunate, because giving is the underlying theme of Christianity, and praying, speaking to God, are all integral parts of Christianity. The things Jesus wanted us to be known for are entirely different. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Gal. 5:22-23). These are the things that the people outside understand; but unfortunately, these are the things we are known for to a lesser degree. This is the core of the Christian culture, because Christian culture should be Kingdom culture. Kingdom culture is being – as it is in heaven; and as it is in heaven, so it is on earth. Our local culture is a channel through which we can display that, but Kingdom culture is the predominant culture we should have in our lives; the culture of being true to the Word; the culture of coming to the Word to look for guidance in situations. It goes so much further when Jesus takes all these concepts and He says, “It has been said to you, but now I say unto you” (Matt. 5:21-48). Jesus took what their culture was and said, “Take if further, whatever is expected of you, go the extra step.” Display something that is original; display something that is not seen today.
Daniel: Jesus’ instruction to His followers was to create a Kingdom culture on earth. A kingdom is a colony or a group of people who settle in a distant land but remain subject to the government who sent them. The Word of God says we are in this world but not of it. It is a territory ruled by a distant power. We are heaven’s colony on earth For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, (Col. 1:13). We are Kingdom citizens. Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Joh. 18:36 )
Jesus established a new order or culture – heaven’s value system on earth (Matt. 5:21-22). We must change and become; we need to live out the Kingdom of God. We must become the Kingdom culture in the earth; the expression of the Kingdom in the earth, living epistles.
This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Matt. 13:13). This is what the religious spirit does to the church – you think you hear and see; you think you understand. There’s a promise that God gives – if you open your eyes and ears, He will heal you (Matt. 13:14-16). You will hear, see and understand, but we decide to open or close our hearts to the Word (vs. 15).
One definition of religion is: It is an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies and rules used to worship a god, or gods. It’s something you have to do. If we don’t change, we do not hear and we do not see and we do not understand! Can we ask ourselves, “Am I changing? Am I open to the Word? Am I in the same place as 10 years ago? Has my thinking changed? If I come into the same situation, do I react the same way, or did the Word bring me to a different perspective?”
Physically and spiritually – you are what you eat. What makes you grow spiritually? The Word! His Word is truth and by truth you grow up into the Head (Eph. 4:15). So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free“(Joh. 8:31-32). “Sanctify them in the truth;Your word is truth. (Joh. 17:17).
We spoke about the little seed that falls into the ground and dies, but we do not see it die. We see the life in the seed grow into a plant. There is a potential plant in the seed that does not die. What dies is the outside. It needs the right atmosphere to germinate; it is spontaneous. It is part of the life cycle of the seed. The life within the seed becomes the plant that reproduces itself many times over. A Fynbos (Protea) seed has to burn before it can germinate. Gold is refined at extreme temperatures. The Lord scourges every son He receives. Look differently at your circumstances. Maybe our circumstances are the medium and environment that we grow and mature in. Our prayer should not be “Oh God take me out of my circumstances” but rather, “Lord, help me grow in and through my circumstances.” If we expose ourselves to His Word, to the Kingdom culture, to His value systems – our transformation and growth will be spontaneous.
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him — a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all (Col. 3:9-11). Out goes the old divisive cultures! No more Jew or Greek, no more male or female – but a new culture in Christ.