To Live in Jesus' Company is to Become a Citizen of a New World

In light the continuing discussion about the interplay of orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the last two posts, I came across this quote in Rowan Williams' Tokens of Trust. As always, the Archbishop of Canterbury strikes what seems to be a good balance:

What Jesus was remembered as having stressed was that the kingly rule of God was about to arrive and break in to the human world. We were about to learn what it was for God to be king, what it was to live under his rule and no one else's. And Jesus' bold proposal was that living in a world and a community in which God was king was something very simple. To live in this world was what happened when you said 'yes' to what Jesus himself was saying and offering; to live under the kingship of God was deciding to live in the company of Jesus and trusting what he said about God and about you.

Trust this, live in Jesus' company, and you become a citizen of a new world, the world in which God's rule has arrived. You will still be living in the everyday world in which many other powers claim to be ruling; but you will have become free of them, free to co-operate or not, depending on how far they allow you to be ruled by God. And what you do and say will become a sign of what is coming. Your life will give a foretaste of God's rule; and it will be directed to inviting as many as possible to come under the same rule, and to resisting the powers (natural and supernatural) that work against God and seek to keep people in slavery.
This last bit, about our relationship to the Powers, seems important to reflect on in light of the coming July 4th celebrations. The quote continues along these lines:
The famous text known as the 'Beatitudes' in the fifth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel ("Blessed are the poor in spirit...") isn't so much a list of rules to follow; it just tells us what sort of lives show that God is in charge--lives that are characterized by dependence on God's goodness, that show forgiveness, single-mindedness, longing for peace and for justice, and patience under attack. People who live like this already belong in the new world: the kingdom is theirs. And, as this ought to make clear, this message is both a very sharply social and political one, and one that will never be captured by political and social reform alone. The changed life that these texts outline will challenge all sorts of things in our present world, but the change in question is one that can only begin in a personal yes to what Jesus is saying and offering.

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4 thoughts on “To Live in Jesus' Company is to Become a Citizen of a New World”

  1. Hard to do, but even a few moments of living in this way is SO liberating!

  2. Dr. Beck, I like the way you keep bringing things back to perspective. Living a life characterized by goodness, mercifulness, a genuine humility and self-examining honesty that acknowleges when one has done wrong to someone else, forgiveness, generosity and careful consideration without jumping to snap judgments, living according to the teachings of Jesus and trusting Him for one's outcome, is a choice one makes for oneself. It can never be enforced, either by church or by government. God Himself forces no one. What is hard is that so many seeming Christians parody the smallness, the meanness, the self-justifying and condemning judgments of the Pharisees. And God's own reputation gets muddied because of them. I guess it has always been so, and will always be.

  3. Thanks so much for this. Reminds me of my 2 years in Oregon, experiencing the 'freedom' from many things that constrained me in Oklahoma (strict gender expectations, everyone conforming to one ideal, etc), and knowing that - when I moved back to Oklahoma - I had a 'secret.' I didn't have to live by certain rules any more. I experienced a freedom that I can now continue to live out in my 'everyday world,' wherever that may be. And so it is with the Kingdom. We have a 'secret'...a freedom in Christ's life that we can live out in our everyday world, wherever that may be (and which will probably be inviting to others, once they see it in us).

  4. Have you read Dallas Willard's book "The Divine Conspiracy"? He covers this whole idea of living in God's kingdom and not just covering what he likes to call "the doctrine of sin management". He covers the Beatitudes as well. I'm rereading this book this summer and its really mind opening! I'm glad to see similar ideas being expressed here too!

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