Thy Kingdom ComeBy Darrell Yoder on August 26, 2015
Last week, my family joined ten others on a three-day camping trip to Silver Lake State Park on the west coast of Michigan's lower peninsula. It was our last hurrah before school starts and we loved every minute of it. If you do the math, we had 22 adults and 31 children—53 people relaxing on the beach, swimming, laughing, riding bikes, telling stories and cooking incredible food over an open fire (which involved not a little bacon).
One highlight of the trip was riding through the Silver Lake Sand Dunes that separate Silver Lake from Lake Michigan. It was breathtaking, a massive sandbox larger in landmass than my whole hometown, moving and shifting with the flow of the wind. God's creation is truly awe-inspiring, and even better enjoyed with good friends.
I think of moments like these—times of enjoying the goodness of God's creation—when I consider the topic of our next Talking Points conference, coming up on Oct. 7, 2015. The theme of the conference is "Thy Kingdom Come" from the Lord's Prayer and will explore the biblical teaching on "new creation."
We believe this is a message people in the Church need desperately, and we invite you to join us and explore it together.
"Thy Kingdom Come." When we pray these words, what are we praying for? What does the hope of God's Kingdom mean for day-to-day jobs, kayaking, exercising and camping trips? When done well, are we embodying this prayer and living out its values (albeit imperfectly), or are we wasting our time on worldly pleasures? Do those activities have anything at all to do with the Gospel or following Jesus?
Some might say yes. Others might say no.
There's an interesting tension in the Church when it comes to enjoying life, a tension that can often make the choice to follow Jesus confusing. On the one hand, we are called to deny ourselves and follow Him (Luke 9.23-25). On the other hand, we are told to enjoy good, earthy, human things with thankful hearts (e.g., 1 Timothy 4.1-4).
This tension is real and understandable. How do we enjoy God's gifts while avoiding the all-too-natural impulse to fixate on them?
The tension goes beyond physical pleasures, though. It's also about physical needs.
When we fail to appreciate our physical human lives, we can easily minimize the importance of addressing physical suffering, poverty and oppression. We are called to help all people flourish, but does our understanding of the Gospel provide adequate clarity on why?
New creation theology provides much needed wisdom, reminding us that our ultimate hope is not only the salvation of our souls but also the resurrection of our physical bodies. We were created for a physical world, and we will live with Jesus in a fully restored physical world, the new creation. Enjoying all that human life has to offer—and working to help others flourish and do the same—are basic aspects of being human and following Jesus.
Done well, we can offer foretastes of the coming Kingdom to a hurting world.
Here's a question for those of us who serve in pastoral ministry: Do we struggle in the evangelical world to embrace creation? If we do, why is that, and what impact is it having on our people? If the average person has no idea what a camping trip has to do with their faith in Jesus Christ, I think we have a problem.
Whether you're a pastor who leads a congregation, a ministry leader or teacher in your church or simply someone wrestling with these questions, I hope you'll join us Oct. 7. We have a fantastic line up of speakers who will address this topic biblically, theologically, historically and pastorally.
Our hope is you will come away with a renewed sense of the significance and power of the gospel.
To register for the conference: https://www.itickets.com/register/new/343193.