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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tangible Kingdom Disciples

Connecting with people, becoming friends and letting them see how you live as a disciple happens because of your life as a follower of Jesus, not in the spare time when you're not doing something else. In the book The Tangible Kingdom, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay talk about the three spheres of kingdom life: Communion, Community and Mission. They see the work of Jesus in each of these areas.

Communion is connection to God. Time at church, reading the bible and praying are all communion activities. Most Christians don't have a problem with this sphere, and in fact may spend too much time here.

Mission is connection to a purpose. Whenever you do something to make the world around you a better place, you're doing mission stuff. Jesus would feed the hungry, heal the sick or simply show respect and dignity to the marginalized. Service, love and hope - with no strings attached.

Community is a connection to people. Loving people, just because you want to be around them, not with any ulterior motive or schedule. Jesus was a hit a parties and he was often invited to be with people who shouldn't spend time with a religious leader, but he liked going and they liked inviting him.

Hugh and Matt say (and I agree) that the kingdom of God becomes tangible when all three spheres are being expressed. We can't just do one or two of them, that leads to an imbalanced and disconnected faith. When all three are working together, though, they reinforce and amplify each other.

The Disciple Cycle connects with this picture beautifully. Community activities give a place to meet, connect and become friends with people. Mission activities provide an opportunity to connect, become friends, question, search and discover. Communion practices let people question, search, discover and change.

We meet people and form a connection at parties and other social events, but we don't have to only develop the relationship doing fun things. We can join together and make the world better. Connections and friendships can be cemented working side-by-side at a food bank or swinging a hammer.

Questions don't only happen in the context of a church meeting. Often questions are sparked by activities or conversations that can exist in the community and mission spheres. Let the questions flow where ever they might happen. Likewise, searching and discovery aren't limited to a bible study. Often the practice of serving people can provide an answer that pouring over the text can't quite reach.

Discovery and change, in the light of who God is and what he wants us to do, are communion activities. We are working on learning about God and submitting to what he wants us to do. But communion never stops at the change. A disciple has never arrived at a finished point. We continue meeting new people and inviting our friends to join us in honest questioning and searching for meaning.

1 comment:

Aussie Pete said...

Interesting convergence of kingdom life and discipleship. Thanks for sharing.