In the previous note we demonstrated that the Kingdom is God's plan. Beginning with Adam, through Israel, Jesus and now the church: He is revealing his domain or rule. As citizens of His kingdom, we are to live a lifestyle that is attractive to those around us.
Jesus first message was to "Repent for the Kingdom of heaven was at hand" (Mt 4:17). The word repent is an interesting one. For many in Christendom, its meaning entails an emotional response to a convicting sermon. However, a closer look reveals that the repentance Jesus spoke of goes far beyond emotion and results in changed beliefs and actions.
The Greek word for repentance is metanoeóand means "to change one's mind or purpose." So Jesus was actually saying to change your mind (thinking) or purpose because the Kingdom is near. Obviously, a changed mind would result in a change of behavior. In a Kingdom context, produces a different lifestyle, creating an unique culture that reflects the values of the Kingdom. Lets explore this idea a little more.
Today, much is being said regarding culture and how the church should address it. There are those who say it is bad, change it or ignore it. Some say to embrace the none-sinful aspects and seek to transform the rest. Whatever your mindset, the idea of culture is important to a Kingdom lifestyle.
So, what actually is a culture? According to Thefreedictionary.com, culture is defined as:
In short, culture consists of beliefs, values and behaviors that are specific and unique to a group of people. Or, culture is the expression of the unique beliefs and values of a group of people.
The Kingdom Culture
Now, with this understanding of culture, we can greater understand Jesus message of repentance. It is a changing of our thinking, which creates a transformation process. We change our thinking; therefore our beliefs will change, affecting what we now value, which in turn is revealed by our actions. This process results in the formation of a unique culture based on our King and his values. Lets look at how this plays out in a unique expression of Kingdom Culture.
At this time, the Kingdom is spiritual with a physical manifestation through the church. It is a commonwealth of individuals with shared beliefs and values that are revealed by specific actions. The core values have been set forth in the Beatitudes and the resultant actions are portrayed in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. This message is a manifesto, if you will, of the moral, ethical and social principles of the Kingdom. What Jesus taught was distinctly different from the religious culture of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Thiers was a culture of law, regulation, judgment and shamed obedience.
The essence of Jesus sermon is the beliefs that shape our values, which should be manifest as the actions of the Kingdom. It is this manifestation that brings recognition of who he is. The purpose of the sermon is to get Christians to stop acting like the world and reveal a distinct lifestyle of the kingdom
The process of repenting and the resultant changes of beliefs, values and actions can be seen as a process of change. Yes there will be immediate decision, but in some areas of life, there is a process to be worked out. This process is in areas that are key foundational components of an attractional Kingdom lifestyle. Theses areas are Mentality, Mastery and Morality.
Mentality - in this context, it is the belief system that is responsible for our behavior.
Our actions are based on what we value. Our values are a direct product of what we believe is truth.
So what is the source of our belief system? It is either the Kingdoms or the worlds. Kingdom beliefs are formed by the word of God. It is time spent studying, learning and applying the teachings of the King of the Kingdom. It is a matter of learning at the feet of the Lord!
As we will delve into in future notes, this was the purpose for the Sermon On The Mount, it was the words of Jesus, challenging the listeners to examine their beliefs. It was His intent to produce a new set of beliefs that would translate into different behavior. It is this belief change that is the precursor to the mastery issue.
Mastery - is about who is in control.
The world and our own hearts tell us that each of us is our own master. We are in control of our destiny.
The Kingdom lifestyle says we are to be disciples, daily taking up our cross and follow the King. We are told that if we live our own life we will lose it. However, if we lose it we will find it in the life of the King. Mastery is the question of who is in charge: me or the king?
Addressing the mentality and mastery issues will result in a changed idea of morality.
Morality- there are basically two views of morality: human or divine.
Human morality is man determining what right or wrong based on his own values. This morality changes with the culture and times. Examples in morality shift in include abortion, starter marriages, adultery and homosexuality.
Divine morality is based on the Word of the King. It is absolute, non-negotiable, never changing and as consistent as the King himself. It is clear - this is the way, walk in it.
The greater the divide between human and divine morality, the greater the visible contrast and demonstration of Kingdom morality. Settling the morality issue then results in a transformation of our behavior. This new conduct reveals the transformation in our lives and is an expression of the beliefs and values of our King.
So, to summarize the attractional kingdom lifestyle is a radical cultural manifestation. It is built upon the values of the King and revealed by a group of repented disciples who have and are experiencing transformation in their beliefs and values, which are demonstrated by their actions. This culture is a counter-culture; it goes against the culture of the world and presents an alternative. As we live the culture of the Kingdom, we become the salt and light that attracts those from the worldly culture.
Next note: the blessings and character producing values of the Beatitudes
Dr Martin lives in St Louis MO with his wife Ava and their dog Zoe. His ministry focus is the principles of Kingdom Authority that empower believers to use their spiritual gifts, demonstrating the miraculous power of Jesus and his kingdom. The results: increased faith and the potential for greater revival and harvest. He is available to speak to your local assembly, organization or ministry. For more information, check us out here