As we met leaders one to one during the month of July, a common theme emerged in conversations: “How do we stay true to what God has called us to and not be distracted / swayed / tempted by ambition, expectations, needs, others, etc?” Since it seemed like something worth considering, we decided to explore this together as leaders in August. I (Phil) started by asking,
“In what ways do our actions resemble the kind of Kingdom of God (KG) choices Jesus made?”
1. Know when to choose privacy over publicity
In Mk 7 people bring a deaf man who could 32“hardly talk,” to Jesus, “to place His hand on him.” 33“Jesus [takes] him aside [some versions say ‘privately’], “…away from the crowd,” and heals him. Although Jesus orders him not to tell anyone, the more Jesus orders, the more people, 36“kept talking about it.”
How quick are we to Instagram, Facebook and / or Tweet – pretty much everything? Jesus however establishes His Kingdom without the hint of a monthly newsletter! As Rachel and I begin to think about the next phase in our ministry – which includes raising a considerable sum of money to establish an excellent, affordable, and all inclusive school (see page 3) – it raises questions in my mind about how much should we ask / proclaim / talk about it, and how much to just trust God to establish His Kingdom?
2. Know when to be faith-full, not power hungry
Before the next phase in His ministry, Jesus wanders the wilderness (Lk 4), where as a starving man He must have craved food. As the Son of God, He must have been tempted to satisfy His own hunger, but chooses not to use His supernatural power for His needs, confident that God will not let Him perish. Jesus responds to temptation by recalling Dt 8:3, how God can and will provide in God’s own way and time. The context in Dt and Lk is not spiritual but actual food. Jesus doesn’t need to know how God will provide, just be prepared to wait and trust He will.
Luke’s description of Jesus’s second and third temptations also concern KG choices around avoiding difficulty / pain and easy short cuts to power.
3. Know when to choose peace over power
As Jesus enters Jerusalem in Jn 12, the crowd shout 13“Hosanna!” – the Hebrew word for ’Save us!’ ‘Help’ – the way subjects in need would address their king (cf. 2 Sam 14:4; 2 Kgs 6:26). 13“Blessed is the king of Israel!” they shout, waving symbolic palms to welcome a victorious ruler (1 Macc 13:51; 2 Macc 10:7). This as far as Israel is concerned is it, finally here is the One who will rid them of Rome and restore God’s Kingdom (cf. Ps of Solomon 17:21-25). But Jesus ruins the day, choosing a donkey not a war horse, Mercedes, or symbol of power. Expectations and hopes shattered, Israel turn on & kill their ‘king’.