"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

Seeing the Kingdom

Posted in Day-To-Day by matt on Saturday, March 28, 2009

Traveling helps me realize there are a lotta strange ideas out there.

Seriously, when I really sit and think through the different people I’ve met and all their strange ideas and beliefs about life it kinda weirds me out – and I haven’t even been alive that long.

Scary hyper-Calvinist old ladies, radical Turkish militants, exchange students, various Christian denominations, all the overzealous “new ideas” of college students, and not to mention the plethora of political perspectives (unintentional alliteration there). The list goes on and on. I’m sure you could write out an interesting list of your own.

And that’s one thing I love about living in a cultural mess like Bangkok; I get to hear all kinds of strange ideas and outlooks on life. Most are courteously acknowledged and then set aside, but some are really worth thinking about, and, having tested these against the Scriptures and life experiences, I sometimes have to rethink what I previously thought to be true.

This is a good process. It should never end. I wanna keep learning, and the best way for me to be sharpened is by testing what I believe against life experiences and other beliefs.

This is what made travelling so important for me. My first two decades were, for the most part, diversity-free. I don’t think I always believed wrongly, per se. I believed the Gospel and I trusted the Scriptures, but it was a soft sort of belief that hadn’t been hardened or tested against the world’s realities. My perspective had good shape to it and my parents were God-fearing potters who spent countless hours kneading the Gospel into me, but it wasn’t until I left home and experienced those things to be true that I really became firm in my faith. And, like I said above, I’m still being hardened and reshaped. God’s not finished, and he’s using diversity and differences to keep me in process. I know clay’s a worn out metaphor, but you get the point. 

Diverse experiences and perspectives are extremely valuable.

A tangent: The sad thing about all this is that many parents refuse to allow their kids to become “fired” and “hardened” in their faith. Well-intentioned Mom and Dad protect their children to a fault, and their kids often either go nuts or end up loving Jesus in an incredibly naive, superficial way. I know, I know…I’m the perfect parent because I have no kids, but that doesn’t change the fact that over-protection can keep kids from growing up and living dangerously for the Kingdom of God. I’m eternally grateful to my parents for protecting me but also allowing me to take risks.

Specifically, though, living here has challenged my understanding of what it means to share God with people around me. I came here thinking of myself as a sort of “spiritual postman”. I travelled here thinking God wanted me to bring Him somewhere that He hasn’t been yet – as though I’m His special ambassador! Arrogant, right? And not to mention a lot of pointless pressure.

The Christian has the spirit of God within them, for sure, but that doesn’t mean they’re some divine commando called to mission impossible in the wilderness (which, though few will admit it, is how many Christians back home view “foreign missions”). As soon as I start thinking God’s work is solely dependent on me we’ve got problems.

But the Kingdom is breaking through all over the place! It’s seeping out everywhere if we’ll just pay attention. Thus I’m not the bearer of all Truth, I’m the guy who goes somewhere hoping to point it out and show it off because it’s a lot bigger than just me. 

This perspective is a process that’s not even close to finished, but God is faithful to bring things to a completion.

I wanna see the Kingdom, and I wanna help others see it too.

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7 Responses

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  1. sulochanosho said, on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 1:07 am

    Yes, travelling unravels many wonders of the live world there. Some times, moving with people, world life out there is more rewarding than sinking in some stuck or stagnant scriptures. Yes, the kingdom is within, we need to see it in a life affirming way.

  2. Criner said, on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Good post bud.

  3. matt said, on Sunday, March 29, 2009 at 2:10 am

    2 sulochanosho:

    You misunderstand me. The Bible – and the Gospel it teaches – defines and enriches my life. True, the Kingdom is inside a Christian, but that’s only because Jesus put it there; he opened my eyes to it.

    So the Scriptures are not separate from the world. It’s not either/or, but rather, it’s both/and.

    Many Christ-followers know the Bible, but have no real experience in the world. This is a shame. Many others are experienced globally, but they haven’t found the truth of the Bible yet.

    This is also a shame.

    2 Criner:

    Thanks!

    Stop being so busy so I can read some stuff on your blogs instead of all the pictures. Haha, I know you’re super busy right now though. But I’ll see you in a month and a half!

  4. Michael Wood said, on Monday, March 30, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Enjoyed you post and your quote from several post ago that relates to this one:

    “We don’t take the gospel places, we simply go there and point Him out.”

    Good stuff. Even though I think you just ripped it off from Piper.

    Hey a book that I read that I think you might enjoy:

    The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose.

    It is about a student from Brown who spends a semester undercover at Liberty. Great Read.

  5. matt said, on Monday, March 30, 2009 at 11:09 am

    2 Michael Wood:

    I don’t read Piper, but I’m sure it’s usually a good thing to mimic him – even if it was by mistake. Haha. I actually got the idea from one of the leaders at my church, so maybe she was ripping him off.

    I’m apparently one of the few college/post college kids who doesn’t adore John Piper. I read “Don’t Waste Your Life” and was bored with everything but the last chapter. I should probably give his stuff another shot. Lord knows Criner’s given me a ton of his books…

    And I’ll look into that book. Thanks for the recommendation and the post bro! Think we could meet up at some time around the first two weeks of May? That’s when I’ll be in DFW.

    Love ya man.

  6. Michael Wood said, on Monday, March 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    For sure…

  7. Dad said, on Friday, April 10, 2009 at 9:46 am

    I am amazed to read words of such maturity. I thank the Lord for you. Dad


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