From the Kingdom to the Cross: A Confession

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I feel like I need to repent of something.

For the last decade or so, I have been focused on understanding and promoting Transformational Christianity, which is based largely on Kingdom theology.  I believed — and still  believe — that the Kingdom of God is a powerful Biblical metaphor for understanding what the church and Christians are supposed to be doing on the earth.

But I think we’ve missed something.  To be fair, everyone else in the gospels — the crowds, the disciples, even John the Baptist — also missed it.  But that’s still no excuse. Especially since we have their example.

We have forgotten the cross of Christ. We have preached the life of Jesus in the gospels, and the power of the Holy Spirit in Acts, but overlooked the crucifixion that made both of those meaningful.  We have sought the glory of Christ without sharing in His sufferings.

We want to bring the Kingdom of God — which is a good thing.

But we have tried to bring the Kingdom without first going to the cross. Which is a bad thing.

Oops.

Dear God,

Forgive me for falling into the same trap your early followers did, of getting so excited over the promise of the Kingdom I totally missed what you were actually doing. I confess that I still do not understand the cross of Christ, or why you had to die.  Which is why I resist the fact that I have to die. And forget to tell people that they have to die, as Jesus did.  We have — forgive the pun — watered down Baptism to an empty ritual, instead of a way to share in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I am sorry. Please forgive me by your grace, by that very same death on a cross I have so foolishly neglected.  Have mercy on those I may have misled or failed to help along the way.  Help me to do my part in bringing back the fulness of the gospel to your people.

And, um, please let me know if there’s anything else important that I’ve missed…

I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.

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God Loves Us Like Jesus: A Six Syllable Gospel (Childlike Theology)

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[Now part 1 of 6 in a series on Childlike Theology]

Since my son’s second set of seasons, I’ve sought a scalable summary of the gospel. Something simple enough to be sung by a six-year-old, yet sufficiently sophisticated to stun seminarians for centuries. Here’s my most successful statement so far:

God Loves Us Like Jesus

Simultaneously saying, in short, that the Father loves in the way:

  • Jesus loves us
  • He loves Jesus
  • that makes us more like Jesus

Submitting to that sort of Savior is a sweet smell to our spirit, but a shocking scare to our sin! Continue reading

Evangel, Part IV: The Bad News

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Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. — Romans 6:3-5

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Evangel, Part II: The Story of God (and Me)

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“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared…” – I Corinthians 15:1-5a

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