Every Christian and church that has a heart towards Jesus wants to see His influence in the earth. They want to labor together with Him so people can experience Christ and His kingdom. What are important keys to impacting the culture around us? For many it is becoming relevant and incarnational. Like Paul they want to “become all things to all men that by any means win some” 1 Cor 9:18-22. It includes going to places where unbelievers go, using current artistic expression, language, clothing, technology, coffee shops, tattoos and the list goes on and on.
While some of these things are important I still find myself looking at what it was that caused the early church in a matter of a few short years to impact the whole earth in their day. One of the things that stands out was seen in a riot that was caused by Christians going to Thessalonica.
Act 17:1-8…4 And some of them were persuaded (became Christians)…5 But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar… 6 When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world (disturbed, turned it upside down) have come here also; 7 and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
“Disturbed, upset, turned the world upside down” now that’s what I call impact! What was the thing the angry crowds pointed to. It certainly wasn’t their relevance or Christianity in cultural attire. “They all act contrary to the way Caesar shows us how to live.” Why did they act different? “There is another king Jesus!” In other words there was another one ruling their lives. It wasn’t culture, current trends, or current values that directed them. It was King Jesus and that is why they were making in impact.
The idea of “King Jesus” speaks of God’s Kingdom. Kingdom is the Kings-domain. The Bible says a lot about the Kingdom. It was Jesus’ first message, and it is to be our first priority (seek first the Kingdom) in both living and prayer (Mt 6:10, Lk 11:2-3). Linguist and Bible translators call the word “Kingdom” a “verbal noun.” It means it is a “thing” that is “active.” The best way to understand the “Kingdom” is that it is the active rulership of God. The active rulership of God expressed in and through His people is the cornerstone of all Kingdom impact in the earth!!!!
God Kingdom (Not the Magic Kingdom) is What Makes Impact
I remember how special Sunday nights were growing up. I could not wait until my favorite show came on TV “The Wonderful World of Disney.” My wife’s siblings would have a Sunday night tradition of popcorn, apples, and their once a week treat, soda pop, while watching Disney.
Every Sunday night on major network television from 1954 -1990 the Wonderful World of Disney would open up looking at Cinderella’s http://youtu.be/sHrYDL9LkIQ Castle with bright colors and fireworks going off while the great Disney theme songs playing in the background. One of the songs that played became a classic from the 1940 moving “Pinocco” called “When You Wish Upon a Star.” The song has since become the representative song for the Walt Disney Company. The American Film Institute ranked it the highest ranked Disney animated film song of all time.
All the Disney parks have come to be known under the heading of the “Magic Kingdom.” The song “When You Wish Upon a Star” represents the ethic of this Kingdom.
When you wish upon a star. Makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you. If your heart is in your dream. No request is too extreme. When you wish upon a star as dreamers do. Faith is kind. She brings to those she loves. The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing. Like a bolt out of the blue. Fate steps in and sees you through. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true.
While this conveys the heart of the Magic Kingdom many people approach God’s Kingdom with the same motivation. They simply substitute “Jesus” or “the church” for their “star.” When you wish upon Jesus…when you decide to go to church…anything your heart desires will come to you…when you wish upon Jesus/the church you dreams come true.
There has always been a propensity to focus on the blessings of God as means of personal gain (Timothy faced this in Ephesus 1Ti 6:5-6 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.) It seems like today however in the mega/seeker/culturally friendly environment this emphasis rules the day.
This was brought home recently when the wife of one of the largest, most recognized leaders in the United States gave an exhortation that almost immediately went viral and caused much controversy. The consumer driven culturally relevant exhortation sounded more like the ethic of the Magic Kingdom instead of the Kingdom of God. Here is what she said that went viral.
So, I just want to encourage everyone of us to realize, when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—(I mean that’s one way to look at it)—we’re doing it for ourself because God takes pleasure when we’re happy! That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy this morning. So I want you to know this morning, just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself! Because that’s what makes God happy! Amen?
When you wish upon Jesus, or come to church is the primary motivation that our dreams come true? While the Magic Kingdom has influenced the earth we want to see God’s Kingdom be the thing we labor to see influence or self consumed, narcissistic, consumer driven culture that desperately needs Christ.
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