October 11, 2014

Thoughts from Mark

A successful and lasting kingdom is so because it advances. Advancement is the pushing out of limitations and boundaries. It is the vanquishing of foes, and any opposition, to the spread of its influence.

This push is not for the faint of heart. It takes those who are stouthearted. Those with foreheads of bronze and the courage of lions.

Unfortunately, the current culture the church does not encourage such ones. In a context of politically correct, “be nice”, God-will-come-through Christianity, the great ones have been neutered. Those with hearts to advance are seen as rebellious bad-boys who are un-Christlike.

We need more bad boys. Otherwise, we will not only stop advancing, but we will lose the precious ground we’ve won.

This kingdom advances violently. Strong and forceful men advance it.

We often preach about Peter’s foolhardy, over-zealous nature. But Jesus chose this guy purposefully. Yes, when you have a guy like him you will rebuke an occasional satan, and have to put an ear back on once in a while. But you will also have one who will stand for you when the crowd is amazed, perplexed and mocking.

Paul wasn’t chosen by accident. Us bible readers see an over-zealous Christian-killer. But Jesus sees one who will endure 39 lashes, stonings and every kind of hardship to advance what he believes in.

Some would say it took that kind of person to get Christianity going in the first century. The intense persecution took brave, faith-filled men to persevere in such conditions. They say we don’t live in an environment like that anymore.

Well, if we had the opportunity to ask them, I think Peter and Paul would say “hogwash!”  [pullquote position=”right”]Every generation needs ones such as these to continue the advancement of the kingdom. Those who believe that of the increase of His government there shall be no end.[/pullquote]

These “bad boys” cannot conform to current church standards because inside they know there is more. Some are radically committed to seeking new frontiers. Others passionately regain land that has been lost. Neither do so by being nice, middle-of-the-road church-goers.

Conquerors

Great ones do not expect God to do it all. They see Him as giving the earth to the sons of men.  Bad boys who have been regenerated believe the earth is theirs. All of it. [Tweet “Regenerated bad boys believe the earth is theirs. All of it.”] They are convinced the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ through their effort. It may be His heart that the whole world be won but, if so, it will be through them.

Peter and Paul both had all the right stuff. The Father knew they had what it took to advance the kingdom. They just needed an encounter with Love. Why else would Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love Me?

A grave concern I have is a systemic homogenizing of individuals within the church. Thinking is replaced with telling people what to think. Action is based upon an agreed-upon status quo, rather than from personal encounter with the Lord. Personality, character, vision, dreams are to be monitored, sanitized and approved rather than inspired and supported.

Yes, we all have minds in need of renewal. Yes, we all are to be restored. But the New Testament pattern is not to change the way people were originally created. It is to free them from everything that hides and limits who they really are.

Holy Spirit saves and restores “bad boys” to be great ones. These have been won by love now boldly and bravely advance His kingdom.

Maybe you are one. Maybe you’re parenting one. Maybe you’re leading one right now and are at your wit’s end.

The temptation is to cage them, put more rules on them. Instead, inspire them. Free them.

In love,

Mark