It seems that my taste in books is changing. Over this year, I have been straying away from leadership and practical ministry books and into books about the KINGDOM of GOD, God's heart for his people, Jesus's intentions for his church.
Last week I finished reading "The Upside Down Kingdom" by Donald Kraybill. Outstanding, well-written, high impact book! It expanded my kingdom heart and enlarged my theology about what God envisions for His people.
Here are a few highlight statements that really spoke to me:
- The Kingdom of God defies definition. It is pregnant with many meanings. This is its genius. It can stimulate our imaginations again and again.
- The Kingdom of God is full of surprises. Again and again, sermon after parable, Jesus startles us. The good guy is turning out to be bad. Those we expect to receive the reward get a spanking instead. Those we think they are headed for heaven land in hell. Things are reversed. The least are the greatest. The moral receive forgiveness and blessing. Adults become like children. The religious miss the heavenly banquet. The pious receive curses. Things are not like we think they should be! We are baffled and perplexed. Again and again, the kingdom of God surprises us.
- The poor understand dependence, simplicity, and cooperation. They know the difference between needs and luxuries. Having fewer entanglements, they're free or to abandon all else for the kingdom. They have little to give up. They simply walk in. And are grateful.
- We are accountable not for grandiose solutions to world problems, but for our personal obedience to our knowledge of the Gospel. It's easy to do nothing because we fear our small part won't count. It's true that one more baby, one more luxury car, and one more vacation home won't make a significant difference. However, when several million other people think and act the same way, the corporate consequences of our behavior are amazing. 5 million more pieces of litter, 10 million more gas guzzlers, and 20 million more babies will make a whopping collective impact. The belief that my behavior won't make a difference anyway doesn't excuse us from moral responsibility.
- The moment we see Church structures as identical with Kingdom, things get dangerous.
- The altar in the church building is no closer to God's heart than a restroom. The unfortunate use of the term sanctuary encourages us to use the church building as a sacred place deserving special reverence.
- When cultural rather than kingdom values primarily shape the church, the salt loses its flavor.
- Agape love is transformational. Agape is bold. Agape is inconvenient. Agape is risky. Agape takes time. Agape is expensive. Agape jeopardizing his social status.
- Coins inscribed with "In God We Trust" are an outright mockery when we spend billions of dollars for defense. We obviously trust weapons, not God!
- A peace that holds millions of people hostage to fear isn't peace. A peace built on military threats, bluffing, and bullying is not peace!
This was just a taste! Read this one. It will rock you good.