The Kingdom Through the People

Here’s a great kick-off to my series about the life Jesus lived….

My husband, David Seeber, is doing a series of Bible Studies on the book of Mark, including the life of Peter, and the Christ as seen through Peter’s eyes. So, in connection with 1 Peter 1, he had our Bible Study group research First Testament (aka Old Testament) arrows pointing to the coming Christ. I happen to be reading through Jesus: A Theography by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, which is the perfect book for that exact research, so I read the chapter called, “Jesus’ Mission Statement.” It took me through some First Testament texts, and demonstrated what it means for us today, using Second Testament (aka the New Testament) texts.

Here’s what I found (briefly, because these guys wrote a whole book on the subject, and I’m just skimming the surface):

Jesus sat down with the people of God and read Isaiah 61 to them, saying

God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to
the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
Luke 4:18-19 (MSG)

Jesus said all the time that he was what the entire story of God had been pointing to all along. First Testament texts (many of the ones I found were in Isaiah, but some were also in Ezekiel, Malachi, Daniel and more; I’ll post them at the bottom in case anyone’s interested in reading them) point to the coming savior as one who would comfort, heal, save, protect, redeem, justify, reconstruct, deliver, dwell with and bless those who would choose to embrace and walk with him. He would care for the poor, free the oppressed and otherwise chained, bring sight to the blind, and be our shepherd.

Through him would come righteousness and justice as well as mercy and compassion. Also, the forgiveness of the wrongs we commit, as he leads us gently to see the error of our ways and turn from them (aka repent).

He would usher in a new kingdom, a lasting one, in the line of the faithful King David of old. It’s this kingdom, as it embraces all I’ve just written above, that is my focus, and was the focus of Christ on earth, as it is the focus of the Holy Spirit, and was the original design of the Father, who will see it to completion at the renewal of all things.

But in the meantime….

God, the ruler and creator of the world and all that’s in it and outside of it, chooses to rule through his people. John writes,

Then you made them a Kingdom,
Priests for our God,
Priest-kings to rule over the earth.
Revelation 5:10 (MSG)

This is confirmed by Peter who writes,

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you–from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG)

The fullness of the First Testament becomes even fuller in our choosing to let God first reign in us, then reign through us as we allow him to lead. What he does through us as he leads is displayed in all that’s written above–it’s to live much like the life Jesus led. It’s not to dominate, rule over, criticize, ostracize, or elevate ourselves over anyone else. Jesus was and is a servant-king. Our model for living in this kingdom is a compassionate and humble one, who releases people from pain and shame, rather than pushing them into it.

This tension between a kingdom that is, through his people, and the kingdom that will fully be, remains in place until the restoration of all things; the completion of the unions of heaven and earth, and of Jesus and his bride (and that’s us!).

(Here are the passages I read and wrote down for my Bible Study research, for anyone who wants to look into them. I used the MSG and the NIV.)
Isaiah 61
Luke 4:18-19
Isaiah 40, 52-56, 59:20
Ezekiel 34:22-24
Malachi 3:1-5, 17-18
Daniel 7:13-14, 26-27
Zechariah 9
Revelation 5:10
1 Peter 2:9-10
Genesis 1:26-28

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My Journey as of Today

The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to my husband recently about my journey as of today. At a glance, it seems so basic, and unlike what a woman who has been walking with God for decades would write. Then again, coming to accept and intend to live the teachings of Jesus takes a lifetime.

Three years ago, I did more than deconstruct my beliefs. My entire self shut down, and I began a major reconstruction process. It has been a very, very slow process, and I have only recently begun to see progress toward any hope of future vibrancy in Christ and his kingdom.

Our Father has been showing me a foundational portion of what it means to live with him. It means dying to self, which does not involve self-destruction (the means by which I have generally died to myself over the past two decades), but rather a denial of myself as being on the throne of my own life—a denial of my perceived need to be right, in control, or even accepted or accommodated by others. Giving up the perceived primal needs of my self, I naturally endure some level of suffering, which God then enters and dwells in with me. This is one way in which I take up the cross of Christ and follow him. I’m coming to understand that God doesn’t so much have a path for me to walk, as a design and mission for who I am to be, and how that being will manifest in my life.

In the past two weeks, God has been saturating me with this message of self-denial versus self-destruction.

I’ve realized that I am not nearly the woman I would like to be known as. I saw at Bob Lexin’s funeral the same legacy I wish to leave when I go to sleep to await the renewal of all things. I want to be known as a woman after God’s own heart, who sits at the feet of Jesus, delves deeply into the things of him, listens well to others, and graces the people around me with compassion, mercy and understanding. I want to be known as bold enough to follow Jesus even when nobody else is willing to do it, without reacting in the flesh to the suffering that naturally follows living the life Jesus calls us to live. I want to be known as generous and kind, not this angry, pent up, unresolved person I am in major portions of my life today. The only way to do that is to bury myself deeper in the One who loves me best, and let him continue to heal me in his own ways and timing….

All in all, I am a broken woman, not only from the wounds I’ve suffered, but from the evil that has reigned in me at different levels through different times in my life. I am learning to suffer with my Lord, and to let him be my God, my king, my lead. I have a long way to go before reclaiming the vibrancy that he has placed in me. But I have a certain peace, finally, in the journey, while at the same time having a certain discontent with the place I’m at (the discontent being a good thing, a driving force to continue in the path of Jesus toward our Abba).