Pastor Duane's 2013 Annual Report
Hope Weekly 1-20-14
Pastor Duane’s 2013 Annual Report
January 26, 2014
This past year, I have talked often in sermons and in conversations about the difference in the Kingdom of God (“big kingdom”) and the Kingdom of Man (“little kingdom”). The Kingdom of God is the reality, both now and yet to come, where we live in Christ’s Kingdom, with Christ’s heart and purposes. The Kingdom of man is man’s concept of morality, success, fulfillment and joy… not always consistent or compatible with our Father’s. In the little kingdom the best we can hope for is “peace on earth, good will toward men.” Unfortunately, we seldom experience either on this big blue rock. And then we, as Christ followers, feel restless. Whenever we wonder if the daily eight-to-five grind or our round-the-clock parenting tasks are all there is to life, that divine desire nudges us. Whenever we feel restless and unsatisfied, that desire whispers in our soul. Whenever we wonder what a life of real purpose would feel like, the desire calls us to something more. We want to be transformed... we want to be big kingdom people.
Jesus made it pretty clear what God’s idea of a transformed world would look like, first within the community of believers called the church and then as the values of that community spread out into the world:
When he said we should “love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves,” he was calling us to trade a ritualized religion for a genuine love relationship with God and to offer to others the same kind of attention, honor, and compassion we give ourselves.
When Jesus punctuated his teaching with “concern for the poor, the powerless, and the oppressed,” he was describing a new value system.
When he said, “Take up your cross and follow me,” he was telling us in graphic terms that following him would require sacrifice, hardship, and death to something selfish inside us.
When he said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptizing in my name and telling people all that you have heard from me,” he was making it clear that his will for us includes the call to worldwide mission. Our call to love our neighbor as ourselves includes our neighbor across the globe as well as next door.
The transformation that God longs for transforms everything: marriages, families, friendships, finances and politics. It lifts up the humble, humbles the proud, and draws people together across racial, social and cultural divides. It calls us to live in such a way that, as Pastor Rob Bell says, love wins! Love wins in a conversation with our spouse, with a fellow Christ-follower with differing political views, in an encounter with a stranger, in response to one in need, in the attitude toward our enemy… love wins! That’s the big kingdom transformation Jesus talks about continually in the New Testament.