The Message of James and the Kingdom of God

From Dave Black Online:

We talked about the message of James in theology class today. James had plenty to say about greed. In this respect I think you would do well to read this essay by Greg Boyd (yes, that Greg Boyd; you may not agree with his open theology but here he is spot on) about the sin of Sodom. Greg writes:

The irony is that we often hear conservative Christian leaders publicly crusading against the sin of Sodom. And we have to grant that, if ever a nation was guilty of the sin of Sodom, it is indeed America. Yet the sin of Sodom for which we are most guilty is not homosexuality; it is greed, gluttony and apathy toward the poor! And if there’s one ungodly aspect of American culture that the Church has succumbed to, it is this sin.

Yet, instead of confessing that we Christians tend to be guilty of the sin of Sodom, many leaders rather pin the label on homosexuals. They’re trying to take the “speck” of homosexuality out their neighbor’s eye and don’t notice the “plank” of greed, gluttony and apathy in their own (Mt 7:1-3).

He concludes:

While our culture along with the prince of lies who rules it conditions us into thinking and feeling that possessing things gives us life, the truth is that whatever we think we possess actually possesses us. Owning things doesn’t give life: it sucks life out of us. The perpetually hungry life of pursuing wealth and possessions is a form of diabolic slavery.

In contrast to this, Jesus’ call to manifest the beauty of God’s self-sacrificial Kingdom is a call to experience abundant life (Jn 10:10). Yes, we must die to the self-centered part of us that is in bondage to the hoarding-god. But if we will crucify that old enslaved self, Jesus promises we will find true life.

Yes, Greg comes off a little soft on the sin of homosexuality. Still, he makes his point. Our Lord offers us an Emancipation Proclamation from our deadly slavery to greed. “Outrageous generosity” should characterize every one of us who claims to be a follower of Jesus. The believer is both a pauper and a plutocrat (see 2 Cor. 6:10). Because we have nothing, and because all we have belongs to God and we are only stewards of it, we can escape the miser’s worries about hanging on to everything in our lives. And, because we belong to God and are joint-heirs with the Son and have everything, we never need fret about our resources. We have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of being both poor and rich.

As everyone knows, I insist upon a complete dichotomy between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God, and that the kingdom of God is advanced only through powerless, self-sacrificing love. This is not a kingdom that fits anywhere in Constantinian Christianity since it is transnational. So if my poor brothers and sisters in Africa need help, it is my obligation to do whatever I can to help them. Why should we abdicate this responsibility to governments and NGOs?

I think it’s high time we let the Spirit of God start to do His work of generosity in our hearts!

(David Alan Black is the author of Christian Archy.  Quotes from his blog are used with his permission.)

Bearing Much Fruit

From Dave Black Online

“By this is My Father glorified,” said Jesus, “if you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples” (John 8:31). Living as obedient disciples of Jesus — that’s the theme of my latest book, which has just arrived at Amazon.

As James puts it, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, so deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). Knowing the truth is not enough; there must be doing as well.

Someone once admitted to me, “My German is good, except for the verbs.” Can you imagine trying to speak a language without its verbs? It is idle for us to claim to be Christians without showing it in our lives.

That is my goal. Is it yours?

(Extracts from Dave Black Online are used by permission. David Alan Black is the author of Christian Archy. This web site exists to support that book.)

21st Century Church Blogging/Essay Contest Entries

Note:  This announcements is cross-posted from the Energion Publications Announcements blog.   You can find the poll to vote on the most popular entry there.

Please notify us if we have missed any entries.

Here are the entries in no particular order:

A. Amos Love

Arthur Sido

Lew Ayotte

David Blanton

Lionel Woods

James Lee

Christopher Larson

I was very pleased with the quality of entries, and even the quantity, given that this is the first time we have conducted such a contest here.  I’m thinking strongly of making such a contest part of each book release, and in fact have planned two more.  Look for an announcement of a short devotional contest on November 15, and of a contest for an expository sermon toward the end of January.  I’ll announce the books those go with later!

Now there’s a bonus.  I’m adding a popular poll.  This will not replace nor will it impact the judging.  In fact, the judges are due to deliver their results before the poll is complete.  But I will add $10, either in the form of a gift card, should the popular winner not be one of the three winners based on the judges’ results, or as a bonus to the gift card for one of those prize winners.

I hope and pray that you will read and think about these essays.  Obviously, this is part of my marketing plan for the new book, Christian Archy.  But my purpose in being in the business of Christian publishing in the first place is to challenge you to think more seriously and to grow.  Hopefully we can generate some discussion as well.

To help build such discussion, here are two more essays that don’t qualify as contest entries, because they are written by people with a business relationship with Energion Publications.  Nonetheless, they provide some more food for thought.

Patrick Badstibner  – Grace Through the Desert

Jody Neufeld (Energion Publications Partner) – Jody Along the Path