Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Call.8

"I add this to this story: many are called -- into the kingdom -- but few are chosen. The time has come. The kingdom of God is near at hand. I have called you from the world's way of living. Repent, put on the garments of salvation, and believe this good news."


--Jesus



The call goes out to all who want to join the game.  Many run to line up at the fence.  Captains deliberate, the rest wait in breathless anticipation to be "chosen."  Friendships, skill-level, popularity, attitude, competitive edge -- all factor into the decisions.  I remember the fierce longing to be picked near the top that often raged in my heart & stomach.  There was much riding on the "choice": self-esteem, validation, winning...

Just as there was a wide range of qualities suitable to form a winning team, so there were undesirable qualities that were nearly, if not more so, destructive to the make-up of the team than mere ability: indifference, negativity, sabotage, cheating, cowardice...


Do you ever stop to think about the "kind" of people Jesus wants on his team?  What people will populate his paradise?  Consider MacDonald's insights into the matter:



"What then is the kingdom over which the Lord cares to reign, for he says he came into the world to be a king? I answer, A kingdom of kings, and no other. Where every man is a king, there and there only does the Lord care to reign, in the name of his father. As no king in Europe would care to reign over a cannibal, a savage, or an animal race, so the Lord cares for no kingdom over anything this world calls a nation. A king must rule over his own kind. Jesus is a king in virtue of no conquest, inheritance, or election, but in right of essential being; and he cares for no subjects but such as are his subjects in the same right. His subjects must be of his own kind, in their very nature and essence kings."
The Lord's is a kingdom in which no man seeks to be above another: ambition is of the dirt of this world's kingdoms. He says, 'I am a king, for I was born for the purpose, I came into the world with the object of bearing witness to the truth. Everyone that is of my kind, that is of the truth, hears my voice. He is a king like me, and makes one of my subjects. 
His choice is the man who asks the one true question, 'How am I to be a true man? How am I to become a man worth being a man?' The Lord is a king because his life, the life of his thoughts, of his imagination, of his will, of every smallest action, is true-true first to God in that he is altogether his, true to himself in that he forgets himself altogether, and true to his fellows in that he will endure anything they do to him, nor cease declaring himself the son and messenger and likeness of God. They will kill him, but it matters not: the truth is as he says! 
Jesus is a king because his business is to bear witness to the truth. What truth? All truth; all verity of relation throughout the universe-first of all, that his father is good, perfectly good; and that the crown and joy of life is to desire and do the will of the eternal source of will, and of all life. 
We see, then, that the Lord bore his witness to the Truth, to the one God, by standing just what he was, before the eyes and the lies of men. The true king is the man who stands up a true man and speaks the truth, and will die but not lie. The robes of such a king may be rags or purple; it matters neither way. The rags are the more likely, but neither better nor worse than the robes. Then was the Lord dressed most royally when his robes were a jest, a mockery, a laughter. Of the men who before Christ bare witness to the truth, some were sawn asunder, some subdued kingdoms; it mattered nothing which: they witnessed.
The truth is God; the witness to the truth is Jesus. The kingdom of the truth is the hearts of men. The bliss of men is the true God. The thought of God is the truth of everything. All well-being lies in true relation to God. The man who responds to this with his whole being, is of the truth. The man who knows these things, and but knows them; the man who sees them to be true, and does not order life and action, judgment and love by them, is of the worst of lying; with hand, and foot, and face he casts scorn upon that which his tongue confesses. 
Is every Christian expected to bear witness? A man content to bear no witness to the truth is not in the kingdom of heaven. One who believes must bear witness. One who sees the truth, must live witnessing to it.
Is our life, then, a witnessing to the truth? 
-MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons III, Kingship