Happy New Year CCDubians! Hope you’ve had a safe and joyous new year so far. I have missed you all. I’ve spent most of the break resting, reading, and getting ready for a new year. Can’t wait to see you and to experience the Spring 2018 semester with you.
You may have heard me use the phrase, “this is available to you.” It’s usually what I say when inviting you to consider a new leadership role on our team or opportunity that could affect your current or future plans. I say it so that you know the ball is in your court and it’s your decision if you want the role or opportunity; but I really want you to trust me that it’s awesome. I also use the phrase when I want to remind you that you can do something - that you have the gifts required, even in a raw form, to realize a dream or passion that you have. I say it because, at the end of the day, I want you to get all that God has for you. Just so we’re clear, I’m gonna keep using the phrase.
This semester, you’re gonna hear us talk a lot about the Kingdom of God. It’s also called the kingdom of heaven, or the reign of God. It’s hard to boil it down to terms that we would use every day because it’s such a big concept. If you did a word search of the Kingdom of God (and it’s related terms), you might be surprised or possibly overwhelmed at how often it appears in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The kingdom of God is what Jesus spent most of his time preaching; Paul did as well. In fact, some have said that the Kingdom of God is the main theme of Scripture. This Spring, the Kingdom of God will be our primary conversation. Why? Because it’s available to you.
In Mark 1, Jesus comes on the scene and essentially says to all of us: “the kingdom of God is at hand - and you can be a part of it!” Immediately questions like, ‘what is this kingdom’, ‘how does it work’, ‘what does that have to do with me’ and more come up. The first disciples had those questions, and many of us today have them too. Later in the Gospels, Jesus clarified by starting a conversation with “the kingdom of God is like...” and then would tell a parable or story about a family, or someone’s lost property, or getting paid, or even a wedding. Again, the Kingdom is a huge concept; we don’t really figure it out. We must enter it.
The way we enter the Kingdom is by becoming a disciple of Jesus, which is more than just someone who agrees with or likes Jesus. Dallas Willard, speaking of the Kingdom, says it like this:
“A disciple is a learner, a student, an apprentice – a practitioner… Disciples of Jesus are people who do not just profess certain views as their own but apply their growing understanding of life in the Kingdom of the Heavens to every aspect of their life on earth.”
Dallas also says:
“Discipleship is the process of becoming who Jesus would be if he were you.”
So here’s the question we’re asking this semester: is living in the kingdom of God now, which looks like being a disciple of Jesus, the way we could live our best life? I think so. So does Paul the Apostle, Dallas Willard and many others. I think the Kingdom of God and all that comes with it is available to you. That’s what we’re gonna discover together this semester. I hope you’ll join us for all the fun and deep conversations, the worship gatherings and the informal hang outs, Evolve gatherings, Spring Retreat and all the special moments that make CCW what it is.
Can’t wait to see you all this semester!
Derrick Scott III