Citizens – Bruxy Cavey

Citizens – Bruxy Cavey

– [Announcer] Jesus is Lord. Three words that draw our allegiance to Him as King. Three words that connect all those who follow Him to a new kingdom. A kingdom that calls us to belong to something greater. A belonging that shapes our loyalty, our laws, our lifestyle, our actions, even our foreign policy. Yet for now, here we are as ambassadors living on foreign soil. Part of the embassy of
the kingdom of Christ. Part of a new movement, thousands of years in the making. We are Jesus Nation. (inspirational music) – Well, welcome everyone to week two of Jesus Nation across all of our sites. We’re glad that you’re
prioritizing the time to say what does it mean to do life together in the kingdom of Christ? And that’s what this concept of kingdom is all about, the togethering of the body of Christ to say it’s not just about a religion of personal intimacy with the Almighty in a kind of siloed
relationship of spirituality, but it is a calling to create a society, a culture, a web of relationships that’s influenced by who our King is. That’s the concept of the kingdom that Jesus preached. Last week we looked at a bunch of verses talks about the kingdom. This word, kingdom, is something we should probably look at for a second. The word kingdom is valuable for us because it includes the word king, and that’s true for the Greek as well. The word kingdom in Greek is basileia, and the word for king is basileus. And so both of them have the concept of king contained within, there’s a link. In English that doesn’t always happen. In modern English, we
talk about a country, and we talk about the prime
minister or the president, the words don’t relate, so our nation. So when we talk about the Jesus Nation, the Jesus part is important. Jesus Nation together is really what we’re talking about
when we say kingdom. The king is at the center
and the primary shaper of the vision and values of the kingdom. And Jesus said his gospel, his good news, is about a kingdom, a togethering, a web of relationships. So we could define kingdom this way. The kingdom of God, as Jesus would say, is a realm of relationship, a realm of relationship
with God and others that is in harmony with
God’s will and God’s way. A realm of relationship
with God and with others that is in harmony with
God’s will and God’s way. When we are living in this
harmonious togetherness with God and one another that’s kingdom living,
that’s the kingdom of God. And it comes through Christ who is, remember, Jesus is the place where God and humanity fuse together. And he’s the one who leads us forward in that togetherness with God and then with one another. When we talk about the kingdom, we’re also talking about identity issues, purpose issues, why do I live? Now, see it starts to
answer those questions. Why do I get up in the morning? I know where I came from. I was born out of the love of the King who called me to existence. I know where I’m going, I’m going into that intimacy with Him. In the meantime though, why do I get up in the morning? Because I want to do two things. I wanna grow in Christ’s likeness, be and is part of this kingdom. I wanna see my own ability to love well, like Jesus, grow. And I also want to expand the kingdom, see the kingdom advance, because there are other people out there who will benefit by the blessing of being part of their citizenry in the Jesus Nation. And I want to help that happen well. It gives me purpose. You know a sense of
purpose, meaning identity. Why do we do what we
do, psychologists say, is one of the fundamental
aches of the human psyche. It is something that we all wonder about. Within a closed system
of an atheistic universe we could have proximal meaning, that is, meaning of
whatever is closest to us, but we don’t have ultimate meaning. And that can create inner
anxiety, existential angst, and whether it’s the
philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre or it’s Nietzsche’s philosophy or others, it can lead to depressing places. When I think about this,
I think about an episode of the old Twilight Zone episodes. Did anyone ever watch the
old black and white Twilone? Twilone, that’s just the
short form for Twilight Zone. My tongue is basically lazy. All right, the old black and whites. I watched them through on reruns. I loved them. And there was one that
always stood out to me. And that is, it’s season three, episode 14. Why do I remember that? I don’t know why, but it’s stuck in there. And it’s called “Five Characters
in Search of an Exit.” That’s the name of the episode. Now The Twilight Zone, each episode was different, just gave you like a
short television drama, a short play, a video
play, asking a question with some interesting elements to it. And this particular episode
starts with a character who’s an Army Major, who wakes up in a room. It’s a closed room, a
round room with no way out. And he wakes up and he
realizes a couple things. Number one, he’s suffering from amnesia. He doesn’t know how he got there. Is he a prisoner in something? And he doesn’t know his
own name or identity. He just apparently, even
by the way he’s dressed, is an Army Major. Then he learns that he’s in the room with some other characters, who are all kind of like
stereotypes of persons. There’s a clown, a ballerina, a hobo, and a Scottish bagpiper. Random. And he doesn’t know what
they’re doing there. They have no context for their existence, and the drama unfolds. Why am I telling you all
this when I could show you? Come, watch this with me, let’s see. Haha, oh I love that for a couple of reasons. Number one, clowns are creepy. Creepy is fun. Secondly, I love that
because I just came up with a new idea. I think every time I’m gonna say something I think is profound, I should
just get in that position. (audience laughs) That would be interesting. But then thirdly, I think what’s fantastic is
you’re catching the metaphor. Of course, this is a metaphor
of our human existence. And when you remove the context, who are we, why are we really
here becomes the question that no one can answer. The kingdom gives us context
for everything that we do. What we realize when we learn
the good news of the kingdom, is that our whole story is a chapter within God’s broader story, so our story makes sense. Our story is contained within God’s story, and then what’s beautiful is that through Jesus, God enters our story. So Jesus becomes an element, an event, a character in our human
story to help us see how our story is part of His story. Everything now has
meaning, it has context. So the Jesus Nation and the
message of it is important for our soul, for our psyche,
as well as our salvation. With that in mind, let’s read something else
Jesus says about the kingdom. It’s in Luke chapter 17. I’d love for you all
across all of our sites to take out your Bibles
now and open them up to Luke chapter 17, Luke 17. If you don’t have your own Bible with you, you can read it on the app, or we have visitor
Bibles across our sites. At some of our sites you need to get up and go and grab a Bible. At other sites there are ushers
who are handing them out, and you can flag them down
if you see one at your site and get a visitor Bible and follow along. But we’re at Luke chapter
17, Luke chapter 17. We’re gonna start at verse 20. We’re actually just doing two verses. Luke 17, 20 and 21. Luke 17, 20 and 21. While you’re looking that up, let me just mention a couple of things. If you’re new here, you should
know we always have Q&A, except for this series
we’re not having Q&A because we are carving out
extra time in our services for all of our sites to respond locally. So there won’t be Q&A during this series. Secondly, last week we handed
out these green sheets, they’re huddle sheets
with huddle questions. If you didn’t get one, pick one up at the information tables at
all of our sites this week and take it with you to home church. The huddle questions are gonna help you with your home church’s
supplemental questions to help you get to know
one another better. I’ll mention one other thing,
and that’s what I’m wearing. Jesus Nation, we’ve put this on a T-shirt because you know, some
series, they have a name and they have a brand, they have a look, just because that’s the series. But then there’s other
times that we think, this actually captures
something we want to be a part of how we express ourselves
for a longer period of time. And that’s true with Jesus Nation. The concept of the kingdom is fundamental to the message of Jesus, that Jesus Nation captures that, has our discipleship emblems on them, which we’ll be talking
more about in this series. And so, it’s a great conversation starter. They’re available this morning
across all of our sites for you to pick up if you want one. It’d be great for you to do that, they’re just 10 bucks and it’s a conversation starter. And let us know if you can’t
afford the 10 dollars, too. This is all it says, is Jesus Nation, Meeting House down here. I had wanted them to put in small print underneath Jesus Nation, ask me about our foreign policy. (audience laughs) I thought that would get
the conversation going. But I got voted down, so
you’ll just have to suggest that you’re ready to talk
about our foreign policy when you connect with people. All right, Luke chapter 17, verse 20: “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees “when the kingdom of God
would come, Jesus replied.” Wait, before we look at His reply, let’s look at the question. The Pharisees, who are the
religious leaders of their day, are asking Jesus, when is
the kingdom of God coming? They don’t ask what is the kingdom of God because they think they know. The kingdom of God from
their first century religious point of view is
the physical establishment, by force, of God’s rule and reign, through their nation
on their plot of land, on the Holy Land, and it’s
now being occupied by Rome. So it would mean going
to war against Rome. And through a battle that is bloody, God would use His people
to drive out the pagans and establish His kingdom. When is that going to happen? So when they talk about
the kingdom of God, they mean something very
different than Jesus. So Jesus doesn’t focus on the when, He focuses on the what. What is the kingdom of God? They say, when is it coming? He says, well, “The coming of the kingdom
of God is not something “that can be observed.” That’s verse 20. And then in verse 21, “Nor will people say here
it is or there it is,” you can’t point at it and see
it as some physical thing, “Because,” and here’s the punchline, “the kingdom of God is in your midst.” The kingdom of God is, and
literally the Greek is, within you, inside of you. So first of all they
said, when is it coming? In some sense, Jesus will
go on later to talk about how the kingdom of God will
come in its fullness one day. Everything will be alive in the kingdom. But in another sense it’s already come through Christ coming,
because the King is here. So he says earlier in Luke chapter 11, he says, “If I drive out
demons by the finger of God, “then the kingdom of
God has come upon you.” In the coming of Christ,
it’s already there. So when we look at verse 20 and 21, there are two phrases that are packed with meaning. They’re so packed with meaning that they could have multiple
meanings at the same time. One of them is that the
kingdom of God is not something that can be observed. And then the other one
is, the kingdom of God is inside you, literally in the Greek. What do you mean by both of those? First of all, the kingdom
of God is not something that can be observed. We’ll look at four possibilities
of what that could mean. It literally says in the Greek, the kingdom of God does
not come with observation. That’s what it says. It’s a bit enigmatic. Sometimes Jesus is intentionally enigmatic because there are multiple meanings and they don’t compete with each other. He leaves you to kind
of chew on it and say, oh this could mean many
things and they’re all true. The kingdom of God does not come with observation might mean, number one, not through careful study. The word for observation
here is a word that was used in astronomy of studying the stars. And so, you might study the stars, you might study the Scriptures. Just study, He says, is not enough. Like He says in John five, 39 and 40, to the Pharisees, you
study the Scriptures. You look at them very diligently. But if you fail to come to me and see me at the center of it all, well then, you’re not gonna
experience the eternal life that I come to bring. And so, careful study is not enough. Nor does the kingdom come through observing religious rituals. The word for observe is also a word that is used not only of study but of practicing religious rituals. We’re going to observe these
rites or these practices. Maybe that’s what He’s getting at. Could be a double dig at the Pharisees, who loved to study and had a lot of religious rules and rituals. Number three, the kingdom does not come with observation could mean not something that is external and observable. This would be the most plain
understanding of what is meant, and it’s certainly true. He goes on to say, you don’t
say here it is, there it is. The kingdom of God is not
going to come with armies or through architecture. It’s not gonna be political or religious. It’s not going to be an
institution that you point at, it’s something deeper than this. Or number four, it’s not
coming through watching. The observing could be, the most simple translation is just, staring at something
doesn’t make it happen. It’s not through watching,
it’s through doing. If you wanna really participate in this, don’t just stare. And then there’s that second phrase that is a bit enigmatic. And that is, the kingdom
of God is in your midst, as some translations will say, or the kingdom of God is inside you. What do we see here? Literally, the kingdom of
God is within you or inside, the Greek word means. Could mean number one, the kingdom is inside individuals. You have the kingdom in you,
or you have the kingdom in you. Could mean the kingdom is
inside this group right now, the Pharisees He’s talking to, why? Because I am here. Jesus could say, well the
kingdom of God is inside, the you is plural, you
see, in this phrase, is inside y’all or all y’all. The kingdom of God is inside all y’all, is in the middle of this group, why? Because I’m in this group. The King’s here, so of
course the kingdom’s here if the King’s here, could
be what He’s saying. Number three, the kingdom is within you might mean that the kingdom is inside you together in your relationships. He’s saying, the coming of the kingdom is, yes, gonna exist within individuals, but it’s also going to exist within the relationships
those individuals have. Because we were saying earlier, the kingdom pushes back against, the concept of the kingdom pushes back against individuality
of westernized religion and pulls us into the togetherness of a more Hebraic understanding
of what God wants. And so, the kingdom of God, cuz really it’s not just a kingdom when it’s a personal
one-on-one relationship only, but when you’re invited into
the relationship with others and expressed in the matrix
of your relationships, then you see the kingdom
when we’re coming together. And number four, the kingdom is coming, the fact that it is within you might mean the kingdom’s coming
is within your control. That’s an alternate meaning
that’s possible with this. It’s a Greek phrase that
is sometimes used to mean, within you might mean, it’s up to you, buddy. That’s what it can kinda mean. If the kingdom actually
comes into your life, that is gonna have to be a
choice you’re gonna have to make. It could mean all of this
packed into that one phrase, and it’s all true. So I read again, Jesus says, “The coming of the kingdom
of God is not something that can be observed, nor
will people say here it is or there it is because the
kingdom of God is in your midst,” or is within you. The kingdom of God, individual citizens, yes, but citizenry is never
a solitary experience. The kingdom of God is always personal, but it is never private. It always calls us into a
culture of togetherness, influenced by the King. So with this in mind, I want us to think
about how we can respond to the teaching of Jesus. It’s interesting because secular science, psychology, sociology, human anthropology, are validating things that seem to support what Jesus is saying here. I was reading an article
recently in the New York Times. It’s an op-ed in a July
issue of the New York Times by someone who’s reporting on some of the most recent research
over the last decade or two of what we’re learning about. The nature of humanity,
are we basically good or are we basically bad? And wrestling with both
impulses that we have inside us. For too often perhaps, I know Christians have
been guilty of this, we have preached as though we start out as basically bad people, we are sinners in need of a Savior. And I’ve said before,
that’s reading the Bible like it starts in Genesis chapter three. But it doesn’t start there. The Bible starts at Genesis one. We are, first of all,
glorious image bearers of God. And we don’t lose that identity
when we sin, when we fall. And yet, secular science has, over the last hundred years or so, tended to proclaim something very similar. I mean, Freud said that children are born just fundamentally selfish. Now that was something that basic Freudian psychology begins with. And then our classic
economic system is predicated on the fact that people are driven by material self-interest. And so we will then build an
economic system of how we work. That’s true in the area
of law, too, right? The fine print, read the fine print. We’ll get lawyers and we have a system of law that is based on the fact that everyone’s looking
out for themselves. It’s true in the area of business. We assume that, and when you assume that, you start to become a
self-fulfilling prophecy. People start to act that way. That’s all the cues are telling us, I’m basically bad and basically selfish. And so listen, if I trick you, well that’s your problem, man. You should’ve watched out for, because that’s the way business is, or that’s the way law is, or that’s the way relationships are, man. And so we start to feed off of that and we start to believe the press. Christian theology, as I
said, has made it worse. The doctrine of total
depravity gets misunderstood and it’s probably just a lousy phrase. I mean, it’s a bit of
a drama queen phrase. It’s an overstatement, totally depraved. And what it means is that every area of our life is somehow tainted
with sin and its influence. It doesn’t mean totally as in
you’re as bad as you can be, it means totally as in
every area of our lives. Depraved is somehow influenced by sin. But our misunderstanding of
that doctrine has led to us partnering with this kind of belief that we’re just evil and horrible. But what’s the Bible truly
say about our identity? And it’s that weird mix of two things. One, we are made in
God’s image and likeness. And number two, we are
infected with inherited sin. Both are true. And if this is the Biblical view, and this gives us context
for understanding ourselves, then what we would expect
to see is both borne out in the sciences, that we are a people with an initial impulse toward good, but who are often distracted
from that impulse, and then many people
just give in to the bad. And we would expect to see both. Here are some examples that in this one New York Times
article are described. Before I look at the
examples, let me suggest if this is true, three points. One, we want to be good but
we’re pulled toward the bad. Two, we thrive when we
are in an environment that encourages who we really are, understands the context and encourages it. Number three, churches
bring out the best in us. In other words, when you
can be in an environment that wrestles with the complexity
of fundamental goodness, because people like to
rally around one extreme or the other, don’t they? We’re just horrible people, watch out. We do that through
economics and through law, self-interest being the
foundational premise. And we do that in religion as well. And then others swing the other way. We’re all love and we’re all light, and let’s all just hug and smell a flower and it’ll all be okay. And it becomes grossly
out of tune with reality. And so, to be in a community that wrestles with the fundamental
nature of our human entity, that we are made in the image of God, we can live up to that. We have a high calling
and Jesus can help us. He can apprentice us as His disciples to become the fullness of that image that we were made to be. As the Apostle Paul says
in Romans chapter two, he says that even those
who do not have the law, in Romans two, he says, who are not believers have the law of God imprinted in their hearts, cuz they’re all made in the image of God. So we would expect to see that in people. And then we would have a
community that also wrestles with our fallenness, our sin. But you add on top of that, so church would be a great idea, even if we were all atheists. I think that’s why some
atheists have been writing about the concept of an atheist church, where at least atheists can get together and try to encourage
the best in each other. Good luck with that. But to be able to have a rallying
point, not just a concept, because who defines what good is? But to have Jesus at the
center of it all to say, this is what it looks like not
only to know what God is like but what you can look
like when you live out your God-given calling, who can show us the context and can show us how to
live within the context when we have Jesus at the center. And on top of that, we get a fresh start because He forgives us
of our sin from the past, gives us a chance to push the
reset button on our identity. So there’s a place for
people who are failures and who are messed up. There’s nothing like it on the planet. There’s no club, there’s no
event, there’s nothing like what church has the
potential to be for change. And so, some examples
that just bear this out, I find fascinating. Let me run through them quickly. First of all, this comes from the research that I mentioned in that
article, of babies, 18 month old. Oh, what a cutie! If an 18 month old is on the floor and a stranger stands beside them and drops something inadvertently, it takes about five seconds
for the 18 month old to actually move to pick up the thing and offer it back to the stranger. It’s an impulse to good. If the child is then rewarded, the experiment’s been run different ways and different contexts, if
then the child is rewarded, hey when you return
something to the stranger, I give you a prize. What happens? The behavior doesn’t
continue, it decreases. Now the child’s motivation,
what was before is an impulse, oh it’s yours, becomes a, something
dropped, I get a prize. Where’s the prize, where’s the prize? Oh, do I have to pick
that up and give it back? Now where’s the prize? What’s going on? The idea of you need a
reward to do good can start to become motivationally confusing. In daycare pickup, experiments were done among six different daycares where, when the parents were arriving
to pick up their kids, some parents came on time
and some parents came late and it was an inconvenience
for the daycare workers. And so, among six different daycares, and people were trying
to get there on time, sometimes they were late, but they said, well here’s
what we’re gonna do. There’s going to be a significant fine for parents who are late. We will charge you for your lateness. How do you think it affected
the behavior of the parents? Significantly increased
the number of parents who were significantly late. Why? Because now, instead of being motivated by other-centeredness, I should really try and get there because the daycare worker
is having to stay late if I don’t arrive, what is it being motivated by? Now it’s just a transaction
of finance, right? Now it’s just a matter of saying, well I’ll just show up late, they probably need the money anyway. I’ll pay the fine. Now it’s just commerce. Firefighters, that’s great picture. Well I’m sorry, my sisters, that’s as sexy a firefighter picture as you’re gonna get this morning. I Googled firefighters. That’s a lot of abs. (audience laughs) Next year, next year, I’m telling you. Yeah, Pastor calendar,
there it is right there. Whoa, you just turn it around and put it backwards on the wall. Okay so firefighters, anyway. This is a early 2000s
experiment in Boston. Did you know, at the
time, firefighters got, I don’t know what the
situation is with them today in different areas, different cities, Boston firefighters got
unlimited days off every year. Sorry, unlimited sick days off. I said just days, unlimited sick days off. That’s it, don’t show up at all, full pay. You could call in sick an
unlimited number of time. It was kept to a significant
minimum because why? Because people were motivated to come in because they care about their mates, they don’t wanna leave them. Then they instituted a minimum 15 potential sick days a year, beyond that you get docked
pay if you call in sick. What do you think the response was? Significantly increased the number of sick days called in the very next year. One year later, do you know what? 10 times more sick days,
especially on significant holidays like Christmas and Easter and New Year’s. Why? Because now it wasn’t about
I care about my mates, now it was well, there’s a
contract between me and my boss, between me and the system, I’ll pay the fine and
then I’ll call in sick. Sometimes when we assume
you need the rules, it actually brings out the worst. You stand in an elevator
and on the wall is a sign that says wet paint, do not touch. What do you wanna do? Touch it. And that concludes one of two ways, either you’re right or you’re wrong. If you’re right, oh it
is wet paint, now I know. Or you touch it and it’s dried by then, and then you feel morally
superior, don’t you? Like, I know more than
the sign does right now. No, it’s dry, sucker! The lying piece of paper, you. Say don’t do it, you wanna do it. This is the story of the
Old Covenant, isn’t it? Is we’ll make more rules and then you will push back against the rules. Our economic system, our
capitalism, is predicated on this. We take the fact that you
are personally selfish and we say, all right, then we will try and take that personal vice and turn it into a public virtue called capitalism. Well, with all these cues around us, it means that we need to
have an alternative culture, a different way of living that says, we’re called to something better. And we’re empowered and
cleansed by the Spirit to live that better life. And we may still have sin
like a parasite living within the system, but
we’re gonna work together to bring out the best in one another. We are citizens of the kingdom,
as the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians chapter two,
citizens of the kingdom. And I wanna ask you, how do
you feel about being a citizen? What does being a
citizen feel like to you? How about being a citizen of Canada? You may think, I’m a citizen of a country, what do you think? Do you think, oh, I gotta pay taxes. And then there’s a bunch of rules being in a country like this,
you know, speed limits. That’s another great example, by the way. 100, speed limit. What do we think? We think, I think, how
far above 100 can I go and still not get pulled over, right? It’s just, laws bring out the worst. I mean, ugh. Instead, or do you think privilege? Do you think, waiting times
at the doctor’s office, so long, I wish we had. Or do you immediately
think of the privilege of wherever you’re born. It’s like, I get to be
a part of this place? I get to pay taxes to
contribute to the stability of a society with relative safety? And see roads actually built
that I could drive my car on? This is beautiful. Because your sense of
privilege about your citizenry and whatever earthly kingdom
you’re in might translate over, you might import that with
you into your citizenry in the kingdom of heaven,
the kingdom of God. When I say you’re a citizen
of the Jesus Nation, what do you think? Oh, obligation. Or do you think privilege? This is a beautiful opportunity for me to become the person I’m supposed to be and to do that in partnership with others. And then I can help them, also, move toward a Christ-like direction. I wanna pray and then we’re
gonna ask God to just help us become the citizens
He’s designed us to be. It’s pretty simple, let’s pray. Heavenly Father, I ask that your Spirit would encourage our hearts to see the privilege and
the joy and the beauty of church as outposts of the kingdom, little communities where we get to live the countercultural life
of the Jesus Nation. And I pray that this week, we would respond to that sense
of privilege and gratitude in practical ways, wanting to partner with
what your Spirit is doing, so that we might, in partnership with our
brothers and sisters, grow in Christ’s likeness. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. Hi, I’m Bruxy, thanks for joining us for this week’s teaching
at The Meeting House. If you want to see more
teaching of The Meeting House, just click right up here. And if you want to know
more about what’s happening in our church community, lots to discover right here. And if you wanna know what
our kids and youth are up to, then click down here. Otherwise, you’ve got
options, so just click away. (upbeat music) Just click into your own future. (upbeat music) Move forward with the blessing of God. (upbeat music) You know, to be human is to make choices. Embrace the existential reality of your own frailty and choose. Be like Neo in the third Matrix movie that had way too much CG for its time, but still lots of action when he says, because I choose to. Choose, choose. Now. I haven’t got all day. Maybe you do, I don’t. Click, click, click,
click, click, click, click. Okay.


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