Tuesday, December 03, 2013

How Far Are You from the Kingdom?

You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Mark 12:34

Jesus began at the level of commitment of each person he met. Often he would simply capture interest and create a desire to know more. Then, as people would continue to follow him, Jesus would slowly, gently define more clearly the kingdom of God and ask for a deeper commitment to it.

He didn't lay any heavy requirement on those early followers. At Jesus' first encounter with John and Andrew, he simply said, “Come and…see!” (John 1:39)

After three years of ministry, Jesus gave his ultimate challenge to the crowd: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark8:34)

Jesus was able to ask for that kind of commitment from the crowd only after demonstrating his love for them and earning their trust. To a stranger or first-time visitor at a church I believe Jesus would be more likely to say, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29)

Just as Jesus recognized different levels of spiritual development, we, too, must adjust our conversations to meet a person’s spiritual understanding. Matching our expectations to a person’s spiritual development. We are most effective when we work with people in whom God is already at work.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; 
nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 
 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV)

1 comment:

W. Palmer said...

Great post! Adjusting conversation to the audience is always so important, and much more difficult than it sounds. I've just recently - within the past year or so - understood what it means to answer someone who asks what religion you are with, "I don't have one. I'm a follower of Christ." Along with something I heard in passing one day: “If you’re 99% sure you’re going to heaven, I’m 100% sure you’re not.”