A recurring theme that I write about is this: that belief in Jesus Christ being the Son of God is merely the first step in a journey with Christ. And “being born again” or surrendering our lives to God is a second step. These are early steps along the way. After these two steps comes a full-blown conversion from living in the world to living in the kingdom of God. This step might take three years more or less if you were a disciple of Jesus or Paul of Tarsus or 40 years if you were an Israelite being rescued from slavery in Egypt. Conversion to God’s ways can take a lifetime to accomplish. And we have no control and not much other contribution to make to this process other than our faithfulness and a willingness to go where God would take us. The healing and transformation that need to happen will happen in God’s timing, by his will and with his blessing.
What does it mean to be converted to God’s ways? First, we clean up our outer behavior and make sure it conforms with the commandments. We learn to quiet our minds so that we can hear God’s “still, small voice.”[1 Kings 19] And we begin to follow what God suggests to us. We learn to surrender to everything in our lives. This is the beginning of the longer process, the conversion of how we think and feel to conform to the commandments. We move beyond the surface behaviors and thinking to the subconscious and unconscious motivations for what we do. We lift up everything to God that doesn’t conform to his law of love. As we do this, we are moving into a deeper and deeper relationship with God. And he is transforming what we offer up to him, so that, with his transforming powers, our will conforms to his will.
The end product in us is that our outer behavior and our inner state of being are the same. So that we have integrity. No more believing something and not acting on it. Or covering up who we are, how we’re doing at the moment. So that we live in truth—truth about ourselves. We become transparent with no hidden agenda. We no longer follow the cultural rules, only God’s. We do what is natural to us to do, as we were created by God. And we take on our purpose which is to bring in the kingdom of God in our own unique way.
And this is the time when we are gifted with the fruit of the Spirit—peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is the point at which we are moving into the kingdom of God or the mind of Christ, expressing who we are in favor of God’s will, joining others in promoting the kingdom and living as one mind together. I like the metaphor of the agora, the ancient Greek market place, to describe the kingdom. It’s a meeting place, an exchanging-of-news place, where everyone is equal, everyone’s gifts valued and celebrated. It’s a vital organism for promoting God’s will on Earth, where we live in God’s arms.
The kingdom is the light on the hill, the reign of God on this earth, the place where everyone belongs. The entry fee is a deep enough relationship with God to be gifted with the fruit of the spirit having within us the very qualities that show how God relates to the whole creation. So when we are able to give back to the world what we have been given, to expend his love in all its glory on everyone we meet, then we are truly bringing in the kingdom. It’s about how we are in the world with everyone, not about our beliefs at all. It’s not about who we are, but who we are in God. The kingdom is accomplished in us by God. Thanks be to God.
Questions to ponder over the week: How would I describe where I am on this journey with God/Jesus Christ/Holy Spirit? At the beginning, somewhere further along the way, living my purpose or living in the kingdom of God? Is God in charge of my life or am I? How willing am I to delve deeper into the relationship with God? How far am I willing to go with him?
Blessing for this week: May we be the people of God who will go wherever he would take us. May we listen for his Indwelling Spirit and follow where he will lead us. May we rest in the arms of God.
News from By the Waters:
All five of the videos about the Exodus story are up on YouTube, plus two more. Here are the url’s to access them:
Part I: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKfouN0PNH0
Part II: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyvRsnqYrdg
Part IIIa: www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZU32Y09UN8
Part IIIb: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHqKay89kjE
Part IV: www.youtube.com/watch?v=84z7KF_uv7Q
God’s Invitation, www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOkp_-wDKFo
The Heart of the Gospel, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJJbPKSOACc
My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!”, is up on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. Look under Patricia Said Adams.