Thursday, July 14, 2011

Desiring the Kingdom ~ Part 3

It's simple really, this formation of habits - Christ-centered habits.

We incorporate the church year and its seasons into our plans, celebrate and mourn together with the church. We gather together with other believers on a regular basis. We accept God's invitation to commune with Him and invite others in to do the same. We sing. . . together. . . psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. We seek and submit ourselves to the will of God. We confess, regularly, to God and eachother, those sins that so easily ensnare us and weigh us down. . . and we forgive and accept forgiveness.

Here are a few more habits to help us along in our quest for a true heart-desire for God:

THE HABIT OF ENTERING THE ROYAL PRIESTHOODEnter into covenant with the body of Christ through baptism into a church. Says Smith, "Baptism is not just a picture" of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. . . It is the formation of a new citizen - a citizen of the the unified body of Christ. When we are baptized into the community of believers, we swear allegiance to the Kingdom of God and the Family of our Heavenly Father. But we must go beyond being baptized ourselves. We must also receive with prayer and encouragement others who are baptized into this Kingdom and this Family. We open our lives and homes to our new family, fellow-citizens of this new Kingdom.

Recite, regularly, the Apostle's Creed - memorize it, even.  Having become citizens of the Kingdom of God, we make our Pledge of Allegiance to God and His Kingdom when we say (together) The Creed - our statement of shared beliefs.  By so doing, we remind ourselves of our allegience to God and His people, remind ourselves of our Christian heritage, and remind ourselves of our beliefs.

Pray, habitually, throughout the day, both individually and with other believers.  Intercede for others in prayer before God.  Pray for guidance for yourself.  Every time we pray for others, we take a step outside our own concerns and interests and follow God's call to give, sacrifice, and serve others - to have compassion and consider the needs of others over our own.  Every time we pray for guidance and wisdom, we recognize our own humble state and our need for God.

Read the Word of God.  And listen to it being read.  Get caught up in the story of the Gospel, from the beginning to the end.  Smith proposes that "imbibing the story of Scripture is the primary way that our desire gets aimed at the Kingdom."  When we get wrapped up in the Story, we see our place in it - our purpose.  The Word of God also sets forth for us an idea of how we should live. . . it shows us "the kind of people we are called to be."  Reading and being taught the Word of God - the Story of the Gospel - colors the lense through which we see the world - regular, habitual reading naturally leads to a Gospel-centered view of the world.

It is easy to just go through the motions of communion, especially in churches where the Lord's supper is celebrated every week.  But do make an effort to bring your whole self into the experience of the Eucharist.  Listen to the words your minister speaks and reads - get drawn into this chapter of the Gospel story.  Allow yourself to use every sense in partaking of the bread and wine.  Look at the colors and textures, feel the bread, smell the wine, taste each element and savor while you meditate on the body and blood of Christ.  Consider what the Eucharist means to the Body of Christ:  God's blessing, His provision, His forgiveness.  When we focus our whole body and mind on the Lord's Supper, a weekly participation in this sacrament actually becomes quite a blessing - a time of restoration and an opportunity to examine our own demonstration of forgiveness and reconcilliation.

The act of habitually giving to God and His Kingdom is a way of thanking Him for His blessings in our lives.  When we give, we "feel" it - or, if not, perhaps we should make sure we are giving to the point that we "feel" it - and thereby reinforce in our minds our covenant relationship with a generous God.  Habitual, consistent giving of our money and / or earthly possessions into the Body of Christ also solidifies (as so many of these habits do) our citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are sharing, giving what is deemed ours to those who have need of it rather than storing it up for ourselves as is the way of the world.  We are recognizing that nothing is our own - it is God's and as such it all belongs to the Kingdom of God.

Obey the Great Commission.  Go into the world, interact with the culture, and then invite them into to the household of Faith.  Pray God's blessing on every interaction you have during the day - coat your humanity in prayer.  Then, by going forth, you take the blessing of the Kingdom of God into a lost world.

Twelve habits - rituals that form our hearts and desires. . . that have to power to turn our hearts toward God.  This is not a works-based theology. . . we are not earning the free gift of Salvation.  Christ did that on the cross.  We are merely choosing a better way of life - a life centered on Christ - a heart devoted to God.

Desiring the Kingdom ~ Part 1
Desiring the Kingdom ~ Part 2
Desiring the Kingdom for the (Home)(School)

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