Now that we’ve celebrated God’s decision to put on flesh and bone and move into the neighborhood, we’re left with the question, what do we do now?
How do we follow this one who entered the suffering of humanity? How do we follow this one who proclaimed that the kingdom of God is at hand? E. Stanley Jones provides an excellent answer, especially in this season of New Year’s resolutions.
How do we begin and where?
We can’t wait till everyone is ready…we must begin with ourselves. “Religion that doesn’t begin with the individual doesn’t begin, but if it ends with the individual it ends.”
I suppose we must go out and begin to think and act as though the Kingdom were already here. And as far as we are concerned it will be already here. That means that if we are to think and act as though the Kingdom were already here, if we have said personally that Jesus is Lord and have made a personal surrender to him with all we know and all we don’t know, we belong… to the Unshakable Kingdom. Then I prayerfully consider how I can apply the Kingdom spirit and principles to all my relationships as far as it depends on me, to my personal thought, life, actions, and habits, to my family life, to my professional or business relationships, to my class and race relationships, and to my national and international relationships, to my recreational relationships, to my church relationships. I can’t change everybody but I can change me and my relationships as far as they depend on me. In each of these I can say: As far as I am concerned the Kingdom is already here.
In light of its being already here, how do I think and act? I am certain of one thing about that kingdom, that the Kingdom is the kingdom of love. So I will begin to love, if not by my love, then with his love – for everybody, everywhere, I am a disciple of the kingdom of God, under its tutelage and control and unfolding sovereignty. I may make blunders and fall, but if I fall I will fall on my knees, and if I stumble I will stumble into his arms. I have a destiny – I am a seed of the new order – “the good seed means the children of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:38). I am sown in this particular place to be the interpretation and meaning and message of the new order. I know the seed and the soil are affinities, so that all the resources of the Kingdom are at my disposal. So “in Him who strengthens me, I am able for anything” Philippians 4:11, Moffatt).
I have a total Gospel, for humanity’s total need, for the total world. I ought to be happy – I am!
- Stanley Jones, The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person, Abingdon Press, 1972, p300-301