Question: How does this apply? What does it look like?
For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
Over at Inspiration with an Attitude (which, by the way, I highly recommend checking out), one of my blogging buddies recently asked the above question, specifically calling on her “panel of experts” for their input.
My blog appeared in her list, so I fear we must question her mental health (or perhaps we can chalk it up to the contrast between my scribblings and her daily bombardment of middle school angst…)
Nevertheless, the question is a good one and coincided nicely with some other tidbits I’ve been pondering, including a conversation between Yeshua and some religious leaders as recorded in Matthew 22:23-32.
These fellows had approached the Lord with what they probably considered an insoluble conundrum based on Deuteronomy 25:5-10 – a law which provided for the continuation of a man’s family line in the event of his untimely death. The scenario they postulated is quite foreign to today’s way of thinking, but basically their question was an attempt to apply eternal significance to a matter of temporary import (as we all tend to do).
I love the way David H. Stern translates the Lord’s response in the Complete Jewish Bible:
Yeshua answered them, “The reason you go astray is that you are ignorant both of the power of the Tanakh [Scriptures] and the power of God.” Matthew 22:29
And there it is in a nutshell – the actual problem lurking within the doors of every church and snatching the joy of salvation from the unwary heart.
Too often, we understand the Scriptures theoretically but not practically; or temporarily and not eternally. We talk about the Bible but somehow fail to put His Word into action in specific, mundane ways.
But not always.
As many of you know, this old dog has been slowly and painfully trying to learn a new trick: I’ve been studying Hebrew, and a couple of years in, I can probably read about as well as your below-average 4-year-old Jewish child.
One thing I have learned is that Hebrew is primarily a verbal language. Now there is a lengthy grammatical explanation behind that which I will avoid here. Suffice to say the language is rooted in verbs rather than nouns.
I admit I may be so far off base that I’m on the swim team with this thought, but one idea which has stubbornly taken root in my mind is this: perhaps in a verb-based language, there is a greater emphasis on doing rather than abstract ideas.
Maybe, just maybe, the concept of walking in trust is not merely verbalizing our trust but actually trusting God enough to do the crazy things He commands us to do.
Crazy things like my friend who recently learned her husband has continued in multiple acts of infidelity over the span of five or more years. Yet instead of stringing his character up for public castigation and gloating over his fall, she is prayerfully working on a solution. In the midst of it, she actively forgives him every single day – not because he is worthy of forgiveness, but because she knows none of us are, and yet God has forgiven us anyway.
And there are many more examples…
God’s power looks like another couple I know whose pasts are both haunted with horrendous abuse – abuse which has infiltrated their health and their marriage. Yet they have not given up but cling closer to God. They have learned to submit to Him, address their own sin and forgive the sin of the other, and they are providing a beautiful and loving environment for their children… all by the power of God.
It looks like Rachel Saint, her young nephew Steve, and Elizabeth Elliot going to live among the Waodani people in order to teach them about the Lord AFTER the tribe’s warriors speared Rachel’s brother and Elizabeth’s husband to death. Steve went on to continue his father’s mission work into the present day.
Interestingly, at the time of first contact, the vengeance-based culture of the Waodani did not even have a word for forgiveness. How do you share the forgiveness of God with a people who do not even conceptualize it in their language? You show them… by the power of God.
The power of God looks like Betsie Ten Boom thanking God for the fleas in Ravensbruck concentration camp…
It looks like cleaning a sick neighbor’s house or mowing their yard when you can’t even keep up with your own; or doing what is needed in your church, home, or workplace rather than what you prefer…
It looks like doing all of this and more as acts of worship rather than for acknowledgement or personal gain.
In fact, it looks like doing them despite being taken for granted or even insulted because you are doing them for God.
It looks like Yeshua in the Garden of Gethsemane – prepared to pay the price of crimes He did not commit on behalf, even, of those who would torture Him – praying, “Nevertheless, not as I will but as You will…”
The power of God looks a whole lot like staying involved in church or in family or in any relationship even when it hurts because by putting up with the crazy of others, you begin to understand why it is God continues to put up with you.
Hmm… it seems the power of God looks an awful lot like humility…
Where have you seen God’s power at work in large ways or in small?