One of the most familiar yet radical statements in Scripture comes from the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray: "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). We're never going to see this culmination perfectly fulfilled, of course, until Christ returns in full glory, when he will bring a highly visual end to the rebellion of the world's system. But until that time, our rescued condition—our new kingdom citizenship with its transferred loyalties—compels us into becoming agents of "rebellion against this rebellion," working intentionally to subvert the devil's claim to authority overours and others' individual lives. In a sense we are a worldwide network of underground operatives, poking more holes in Satan's enterprise than he can possibly plug. We live out a daring mission, serving others and pulling them back from his traps while his back is turned ….
Come on. Don't you want a piece of that?
Now I get that some people out there will object to this language—and some maytake it out of context. (I can see it now on some blog site run by a guy who lives in his mother's basement: "Missiologist calls for subversive agents of world conquest.") No,the subversive action to which I refer is sharing and showing the good news of Jesus. That's really subversive! King Jesus will come back, and "the kingdoms of this world" will become "the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ" (Rev. 11:15 KJV). In themeantime, we are just doing what Jesus did—announcing the good news and living out its message in incredibly subversive ways.
Being a kingdom agent means becoming one who "loses his life" from a worldly point of view (Mark 8:35) in order to find true life for ourselves and to help rescue others who are chained in darkness, doubt, and cleverly disguised despair. It means representing God through his body on earth—the church—as he uses us to advance and expand his kingdom through Spirit-led, subversive ways. It means pursuing a different agenda and mission in life because we serve a different King, living out his teachings as flesh-and-blood realities, not just chapter-and-verse references. When the world zigs, we zag. We give death and its depressing companions (like poverty, pain, and pointlessness)—we give them something to really worry about.
One simple, kingdom act at a time.
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Subversive Kingdom is available from ChristianBook.com and other retailers.
Previous articles by Ed Stetzer include:
Proselytizing in a Multi-Faith World | Why mutual respect and tolerance require us to witness for Christ. (March 28, 2011)
Curing Christians' Stats Abuse | The statistics we most love to repeat may be leading us to make bad choices about the church. (January 15, 2010)
Life in Those Old Bones | If you're interested in doing mission, there could hardly be a better tool than denominations. (June 11, 2010)
Previous Christianity Today articles about missions & ministry include:
Creative Discipleship: Meet Richmond's Christians | Five Richmonders who transcend their city's cultural Christianity in unlikely ways. (April 1, 2012)
The Heart of Christian Life: Pillars of Hospitality | How to strengthen communities that welcome strangers. (March 26, 2012)
Tsunami Aftermath: Second Chances in Japan | One year after disaster, sacrificial giving gains churches new credibility. (March 9, 2012)
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