This world IS our home, we are NOT just passing through.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.—Jesus (Matthew 5.5, emphasis added.)This week, I want to look at an emphasis in the teachings of Jesus that many miss today. Today, those who bear Christ’s name (Christians) are known largely (Praise God for the few exceptions.) as being focused on getting their ticket to heaven so that they can “get out of here.” They sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” What we have to realize, however, is that this mindset is strangely absent from the

Jesus story itself and the Jesus that we find in that story. We must allow this absence to confront us.

Ponder the following three passages and notice their emphasis.

“You are the salt of THE EARTH. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” —Matthew 5.13

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, ON EARTH as it is in heaven.” —Matthew 6.10

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit THE EARTH.”—Matthew 5.5 (In modern preaching, we find ministers bellowing from their pulpits, blessed are the meek for they shall inherit Heaven. This is a subtle departure from the early church that began with the introduction of Gnosticism, what some call, “Christian history’s first heresy to burn through the church.” Gnosticism, for those who have studied this early phenomenon, is an unhealthy preoccupation with escaping Earth and getting to heaven.)

What we find in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is that Jesus was not focused on getting people out of this place to some far distant heaven. Instead, Jesus was focused on bringing the far distant Heaven (in the mind’s eye of people) very close, bringing it to Earth. In other words, Jesus wasn’t focused on getting people to heaven, but instead on bringing heaven to people.

This traces back to the ancient Hebrew Genesis narrative itself.

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” —Genesis 1.26

God, according to the Hebrew narrative, made this Earth and gave it to us as our original home, which we lost to God’s enemy:

“The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me [by humanity in the beginning], and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” —Luke 4.5-7

Jesus also repeatedly refers to God’s enemy as the “ruler of this world.” — (John 12.31; John 14.30; John 16.11) Jesus saw his mission as being to save us and our home here from the enemy’s oppressive reign. He sought to restore us and our home, once again, to the original Kingship of Christ (see Colossians 1.13).

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth has been GIVEN to ME. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . .” —Matthew 28.18-19 (Notice that Jesus is quoting the devil from the wilderness, saying that through his death and resurrection all that the enemy claimed as his own Jesus had won back and given back to us. See also Luke 11.21, 22)

John too ends his climax of canonical prophecy with God, not taking us to some Heaven to spend eternity with Him, but rather the breathtaking picture of God coming HERE to spend eternity WITH US!

“I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God’.” —Revelation 21.2-3

Again, Jesus, contrary to many who bear his name today, lived in the headspace of bringing Heaven to Earth, not getting those from Earth to some Heaven beyond.

Now, I also want to address a rumor that is circulating about myself personally and RHM. It is usually not my policy to track down and correct every rumor that circulates about me. Typically, I simply let rumors and those who spread them run their course and let honest thinking people think things through with the hope that they would talk with me (rather than about me) if they have questions. Some today are saying, “Herb doesn’t believe in Heaven!” Nothing could be further from the truth. I absolutely believe in Heaven. However, I do not believe that Jesus teaches us to call Heaven our home. Being a Jesus follower, if we are actually going to follow the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, this means being about restoration rather than relocation.

Now, some Christians today believe that we will spend some time in Heaven at some stage of the process of our transition from this present evil age to the age to come (Galatians 1.4; Ephesians 1.21). Also, it must be noted, that there are followers of Jesus who hold to an eschatology that doesn’t even include ever going to Heaven, but that when Jesus returns here to this earth, it will be to reign here, and for his followers to reign with him. Nevertheless, for this week, I want to address those who believe that we will spend some time in Heaven at some point. There are some differences among the beliefs in modern Christianity about our potential time in “Heaven.”

1) Some believe we go to Heaven at death, and when Jesus returns, he is only to coming back to pick everyone up down here still living and take them to heaven also so that we all together can spend eternity there, in heaven, with him. This is the headspace of

“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through” that finds absolutely no resonating notes in the Jesus story itself, in my opinion.

2) Some of them believe that the time we spend in Heaven will be between death and His return, BUT that when Jesus returns, we will all spend eternity, ultimately here on Earth in an Earth made new.

3) Others believe that death is a sort of “sleep,” waiting on a future resurrection (Martin Luther as well as some Anabaptists, such as Michael Sattler, believed this in the sixteenth century.) at Jesus return. We will then spend a temporary time in Heaven (not everyone believed this part in the sixteenth century) until a third return of Jesus to this Earth to spend eternity on this Earth in an Earth made new.

I want to address the second and third view above. Regardless of which of the two views you hold to above, in regards to my point this week, it’s mute (again, I will add, that for option 1, I can’t find any evidence for this view, in it’s entirety, anywhere in the New Testament). In BOTH 2 and 3, whichever of those two some may hold, I want those who believe this to notice; our potential time in Heaven, even if we do go there at some point, is ONLY TEMPORARY. Stop and think about this. Your time here on EARTH is not temporary. THIS is your home. We lost it to God’s enemy, and Jesus rescued it back for us. (Revelation 12.10, 11.15) Even if we do, at some point, spend some portion of time in Heaven, our time IN HEAVEN is TEMPORARY. There, we will sing in Heaven (for those who believe we will spent some portion there), “This place [heaven] is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” We are going to be spending eternity HERE! (Revelation 21.2-3)

So, as a follower of Jesus, we should not be living as if “this world is not my home.” We can begin by simply no longer saying the statement, “we are just passing through.” This world IS our home. We have a lot of work to do yet. God’s will is not being done ON EARTH as it’s done in heaven, yet. We are called to put on display what life on this Earth, under the Kingship of Jesus does look like. It is the Bar Enasha (new humanity founded in Jesus) that we talked about last week. It is what Jesus called “the Kingdom”, which Jesus commands us to proclaim, “has come!”

HeartGroup Application

1. This week I want you to ponder the following two texts:

“And he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and TO HEAL THE SICK.”—Luke 9.2

We live in a SICK world, and as a Jesus follower, our first concern should not be to leave this world behind, but to bring healing to our sick world around us. Jesus gave us a way to be conduits of healing to this world, and we are to be about setting in motion that healing. We must be about restoration, not relocation.

In addition, this verse:

“I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”—Philippians 1.23-26

Some view this verse as saying Paul was faced with dying and going to Heaven or that Paul was offered translation like the Hebrew Patriarch Enoch or the Hebrew Prophet Elijah. Regardless, I want you to notice Paul’s headspace, 1) To relocate and be with Jesus or 2) to remain here and continue in the ministry of restoration. Which did Paul choose?

2) Write down any perceptions, thoughts, feelings, or paradigm shifts Jesus gives you during your time meditating on these texts.

3) Be prepared to share and discuss openly and respectfully any of your insights this coming week with your HeartGroup together.

In short, this world IS our home. We are NOT just passing through. We are here to stay. Even if we do spend some time in the future elsewhere, it will be that location that we will “just be passing through.” We are spending eternity here. Eternity starts now! The Kingdom has come! This Kingdom, which is a radical new way of doing life, is based on a radical new way of seeing God (His character), ourselves, and others. We are called to put on display what the “age to come” (Ephesians 1.21) looks like in the here and now! We are called to be like weeds (We’ll talk more about this later.) in a garden, subversively crowding out, with one heart at a time, this “present evil age.” (Luke 13.19; Galatians 1.4)

Much to think about for sure.

Keep living in love and loving like Christ. Now go enlarge the Kingdom.

I love you guys. See you next week.

The Bar Enasha

“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26.64)This week I want to talk a little about a phrase Jesus uses repeatedly in the Jesus stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. This phrase is “Bar Enasha.” This is a Hebrew phrase that even Historical Criticists of the Jesus Story admit is original to Jesus. It is used more than 81 times in the four versions of the Jesus story that we have today. It is the only phrase Jesus used anywhere nearly as much as the phrase “the Kingdom.” Modern translations translate this Hebrew phrase (Bar Enasha) via its Greek version into the English phrase “Son of Man.” However, this is a transliteration from the Greek, which in turn was a transliteration of the Hebrew “Bar Enasha.” What did this phrase mean, not in the Greek, but in the Aramaic that Jesus spoke? This Hebrew phrase comes directly from Daniel 7.13.

As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a SON OF MAN coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed. (Daniel 7.13, 14)

The Hebrews rightly understood this phrase applied not only to an individual but also to a “community” founded in this individual. Notice the following context of Daniel’s phrase “son of man.” It is not an individual but also a “People” who are “birthed” from this “individual.”

“The kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to THE PEOPLE of the holy ones of the Most High; THEIR kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey THEM.” (Daniel 7.27)

Pay close attention to verses 13 through 14 and verse 27. You will see clearly that Bar Enasha (what in English is translated as “Son of Man”) is much more than a mere individual, and is a new humanity that finds its source in that individual.

“Son of” is merely a Semitic idiom meaning “Of or pertaining to the following genus or species.” Translating Bar Enasha as the “True Humanity” or “The Human Being” or the “Divinely revolutionized humanity,” or, as some historically have called it, “beloved community” would be better than merely “Son of Man.” Here is a side exercise. Go back and reread all the times Jesus uses this phrase “Son of Man” and try to see what Jesus is saying “communally.” In other words, look at this phrase, not as merely talking about Jesus himself as an isolated individual but rather as Jesus himself AND this new humanity he has come to give birth to. It’s not Jesus or the New Humanity, but Jesus AND His New Humanity.

Now I also want to be clear about something else. I don’t want, for a second, to be misunderstood on this. I believe wholeheartedly in a literal second coming, a literal physical return of Jesus our Lord to this earth. This was clearly promised by the angels that accompanied his ascension:

“While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1.10-11)

Yet we must also be honest that when Jesus referred to the “coming” of the Bar Enasha, he was not always referring to his literal physical return but to the coming of that must precede his literal, physical return. He was pointing, in many of his uses of Bar Enasha, to the coming of this “Bar Enasha,” the coming of this new Humanity that must and will precede his literal, physical return. Which leads us to our featured text this week:

“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: FROM NOW ON you will see the Son of Man [the Bar Enasha] sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26.64)

Notice, here Jesus is not talking about some event in the future on literal clouds. (Although Jesus will return on literal clouds.) Jesus here is quoting Daniel 7 and saying, “What Daniel is referring to in verse 13 taking place at that moment, “right now” before your very eyes! Jesus said, “from now on!” Jesus is quoting Daniel 7.13 and applying it to that very moment and from that very moment onward! Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, which was at that moment set in motion, He would be giving birth to this new humanity, the Bar Enasha. This is what Jesus had been referring to throughout His entire ministry as the coming of the Kingdom.

How does this apply to us today?

We must make no mistake here. We, as followers of this Jesus, are not only invited to be a part of this new humanity birthed through Jesus’ death but are also called to put on display what this new humanity is all about. We are called to be the world changed by Jesus! We are not called to force, through legislation, change over the world around us. No, no! We, as the church, are called to BE this whole new world radically changed by Jesus Christ. To put on display what that looks like! We are called to put on display what this new humanity birthed out of Jesus’ death and resurrection is all about, NOW!

HearGroup Application

1.This week I want you to look at these texts not individually as is all too often done. I want you to look at these next three passages in their original communal meaning, which scholars today see that Paul actually intended them to be read in:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, THE NEW CREATION [the Bar Enasha] has come: The old has gone, the NEW is here! (2 Corinthians 5.17)

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is THE NEW CREATION [the Bar Enasha]. (Galatians 6.15)

By setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself ONE NEW HUMANITY out of the two, thus making peace. (Ephesians 2.15)

This is not to exclude the truth that Jesus makes each one of us “new” as we continue to encounter what He and His Kingdom are all about. Certainly, He does that for us personally. These texts are specifically referring to the communal nature of the new creation, the new humanity, the “new community” so to speak of which Daniel’s “Bar Enasha” foretold, and that Jesus death gave birth to: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12.24)

I want you to consider what you looked at last week in Matthew 5-7, where Jesus describes what his Kingdom, which he had come to establish, would be all about. Make the connection in your hearts that this “Kingdom” IS the Bar Enasha, this new humanity, which claims Jesus as their King, and reigns alongside with him; “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5.10, emphasis added. Cf. Daniel 7.13-14, 27. Remember “reigning” in Jesus’ Kingdom is a radically different type of reigning than the reigning that the Empires of this world practice.)

2.Meditate on the following four passages this week concerning the literal, physical return of Jesus, and write down any insights Jesus may give you as you look at each one:

[Jesus] who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3.21, emphasis added)

Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every [competing] ruler and every authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15.25, emphasis added)

He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. (Luke 19.12, emphasis added)

As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. (2 Peter 3.12, emphasis added)

3.Be prepared to share with your HeartGroup not only what you just wrote down but also, according to the Sermon on the Mount, what you perceive this New Humanity, this Bar Enasha, to be about. Remember, it is Jesus’ first coming that gave birth to the coming of the Bar Enasha whose coming in turn gives birth to Jesus’ return, cause and effect.

Remember, the Bar Enasha, Jesus’ Kingdom, is a radical new way of doing life. This new way of doing life is based on a radically new picture of the character of God, a radical change in how we view ourselves, as well as a radical change in how we see everyone else around us. Jesus gave us a way to heal our world. The only alternative, according to Jesus’ parables, is annihilation, but we are not there yet. There is still hope. Jesus would not have come had there not been. There is still work to do. This world is right where WE belong. This is our home, given back to use through the death and resurrection of Jesus. (See Revelation 21-22.) And we are called to put on display the coming of the Bar Enasha, the coming of this new humanity rooted in the person and the teachings of Jesus Christ. We are called to invite all who are willing to be a part of this revolution. In a phrase, we are called to “enlarge the Kingdom” that arrived with Jesus’ first coming, so that Jesus as King can return to shepherd this new humanity at his second.

In the upcoming weeks, we will be looking at Jesus’ two alternative “end of the world” scenarios. This world is set on a collision course with death. But Jesus gave us a way out. Jesus, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, gave us a way to heal our world, if we will only listen. We’ll get to that subject in the upcoming weeks. Until then, keep living in love (Ephesians 5.1-2), keep loving like Jesus and keep enlarging the Kingdom! The Bar Enasha has come, and if you are willing, you are welcome and invited to be a part.

I love you guys. Now go build the Kingdom. Long live the Bar Enasha!

I’ll see you all next week.

The Deeply Obstructed Kingdom Has Come (Part 2)

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. (Matthew 9.35)This week I’d like to finish up our look at Jesus’ “already present,” but deeply obstructed Kingdom that we began to consider last week. In the above verse, we find once again, the picture of Jesus as an itinerant teacher, traveling from place to place within Israel, proclaiming “the Kingdom” has arrived. What we also find in the Jesus story is that there was, what many call today, negative “kick-back” to Jesus’ announcement of the Kingdom’s arrival. In short, the Kingdom was a radical reorientation of how humanity does life, based on a radical paradigm shift in how we see God, ourselves, and everyone else around us. But there were many who were benefitting by how life was already oriented. To Jesus’ new reorientation, they did not feel positively in the least. Jesus met deep resistance from the very beginning (see Luke 4.28-29). He met anger. (see Luke 13.14) He was bringing what He considered to be “good” news, but He was met with suspicion, accusations of his teachings being dangerous. Crowds too, voiced “complaints” about what Jesus was teaching. While some saw what Jesus was sharing as truly good, others felt he was “deceiving” everyone. (see John 7.12) Jesus met, time and time again, stubborn resistance. Sometimes he faced censure and rebuke by the religious leadership of his day. Sometimes he endured being labeled as a heretic, an outsider, whose views, if were adopted, would bring about the end of the entire nation of Israel. And the bottom line is that many to whom Jesus brought the good news of the Kingdom to, initially, by their responses, betrayed that in reality they were very afraid.

Which leads me to why, I believe, we see in Jesus, so much compassion and genuine sorrow for his rejecters. (see Luke 13.34) All the rejecters desired was for the promises made to Israel of long ago be fulfilled. They longed for “the restoration.” They believed the covenant made with them involved their being “obedient.” And all they really wanted was to be obedient enough so that the promises, according to their understanding, could be finally fulfilled. This too is why Jesus was viewed as such a threat. Jesus was, in reality, the fulfillment of each of those promises, but it involved changing some significant things as well. And this they could not handle.

THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS were in effect until John came; since then the good news of THE KINGDOM of god has been being proclaimed, and everyone is attacking it. (Luke 16.16, personal translation, emphasis added.)

Jesus had already assured them:

“Do not think that I have come to nullify or demolish THE LAW OR THE PROPHETS; I have come not to nullify or demolish THE LAW but to fill in the areas in which it is deficient, to bring it from incomplete to a complete whole. (pleroo). For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until the whole is brought into existence. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of the commandments I am about to teach here, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in THE KINGDOM; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in THE KINGDOM. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees [which was rooted in the law and the prophets], you’re not even going to be able to enter THE KINGDOM. (Matthew 5.17-20, personal translation/paraphrase)

It was time to move from outward rule keeping to inward heart realities. (murder to even anger; adultery to even lust). But it was also time to move from demanding “an eye for an eye” our enemies, to now learning how to radically forgive our enemies and to love even them as indiscriminately as the sun shines and the rain falls. It was time to move to seek the restoration of our enemies from their victimhood to the real Enemy, and no longer desire their punishment, but their restoration too. It was THIS that repeatedly caused the religious leadership of Jesus’ day to violently reject him. For where they Law and the Prophets demanded punishment of “sinners”, Jesus continually circumvented the required punishment, and sought instead, the restoration of those the law and the prophets condemned. (See John 8.1-11; Luke 8.40-48)

What response did Jesus get in return?

These changes threatened too much. In response to his “Kingdom,” Jesus found fear and anger from the very ones who claimed to be “the people of God.” All the while, in Jesus, God was standing right in front of them, the very God, whose people, they claimed to be.

But here is the beautiful part.

Jesus met their anger with compassion, because he knew they didn’t know what they were doing. To their intolerance, he sought to explain their intollerance as simply the result of their ignorance. To their fear, he saw only infinitely valuable souls to be won from fear (not fear of God, but fear of change) to love. To those who were so addicted to their certitude to embrace the questions that following this new Jesus would bring in its tow, Jesus felt sorrow. To their closed system that was now being threatened by Jesus’ radically inclusive love, Jesus simply loved even more. To a system that had become stagnant, a protecting and guarding of the old ways rather than a continual movement along side of God into the “new”, Jesus, incomprehensibly, continued to sow the seeds of hope. While the religious leadership of Jesus’ day had become oppressive, Jesus saw in their plight, a plight common to all humanity, and not unique at all. They were not alone. To their tactics of manipulation and control, Jesus excused them as simply being blind, immature and inexperienced. To there extreme religious dysfunction which would ultimately turn into full blow homicide, no Deicide, Jesus understood they were simply . . . afraid.

So what did Jesus do? He continued to actively love them so much so that the only way for them to escape the insecurity that the religiously zealous, and nationalistically dedicated felt in response to Jesus’ radical nonviolence and radical inclusivity was to crucify him:

“You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” (John 11.50)

But what does all of this mean for us?

1)The gospel was to Jesus the announcement that the Kingdom (the new creation, the new humanity) had come.

When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about THE KINGDOM of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. (Luke 9.11)

2)Jesus’ commission to those who were his followers was to proclaim this SAME gospel.

Cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘THE KINGDOM of God has come near to you.’ (Luke 10.9)

3)We see the first century followers of Jesus actually carrying out this commission, teaching Jesus’ same gospel:

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed THE KINGDOM of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! (Acts 28.30-31)

4)Jesus’ intention was that this gospel, the good news announcing that his Kingdom had come, would be proclaimed to each and every nation.

And this good news of THE KINGDOM will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come. (Matthew 24.14)

The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me [and my Kingdom] in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” (Acts 23.11, emphasis added)

What is this Kingdom? Why was is so threatening to the religious leaders of Jesus day that they had him crucified? Why was it so threatening to Rome that Rome had Jesus’ followers crucified (or beheaded)? The answer is in the fact that whatever Jesus’ Kingdom encounters, this radical reorientation of how we do life, based on a new way of seeing God, ourselves and everyone else around us, seems at first to be threatening.

They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is ANOTHER KING, one called Jesus.” (Acts 17.7)

They were proclaiming, not the Pax Romana (the Peace of Rome), but the Peace of Jesus’ Kingdom. (See Acts 10.36) They were not praising Caesar as Lord, but proclaiming different Lord, the Lord Jesus. (See Acts 10.31,36) They were not chiming in with all the rest, proclaiming Caesar as “Son of God,” but this new Lord Jesus, of a different Kingdom as “Son of God.” (See Acts 9.20) The were not proclaiming Rome, and more specifically Caesar, as the “Savior of the world,” but they claimed that Jesus and his Kingdom was the “Savior of the world.” (See 1 John 4.14)

What does this mean for us today?

Does following Jesus ever feel, to you, as if it threatens to change everything about your life too?

Well, I’ll tell you a little secret. It does. But the changes that Jesus brings are changes that lead to life. The course that this world is on is one that ends intrinsically in death. Jesus came that we might have life.

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day WHAT WOULD BRING YOU PEACE—but now it is hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19.41-42)

HeartGroup Application

1)Read, prayerfully and thoughtfully, DAILY, through Matthew 5-7 for the next seven days. Be mindful of the voices in your headspace that will try and marginalize, or explain away, what Jesus was actually teaching.

2)List some ways that Jesus’ teachings feel threatening to you. Then list how those same teachings could also set this world on the course toward a “new humanity” (Ephesians 2.14-15), a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5.17; Galatians 6.15), life rather than death, if those teachings would be embraced by us.

3)Be prepared to share openly and mutually your insights and discoveries with your HeartGroup, dialoging with each other and discussing each respectfully. Remember to practice the fifty plus “one anothers” of the New Testament most of all.

Wherever this finds you today, remember, the Kingdom of heaven is not a kingdom in heaven, but the Kingdom OF or FROM heaven, come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave us a way to heal our world, one person at a time. So today, go out and love like Jesus did, think like Jesus did, feel like Jesus did. Embrace Jesus’ picture of the Father, how Jesus taught us to see even ourselves. And continue to embrace how Jesus taught us to see, also, everyone else around us.

Keep living in love (Ephesians 5.1,2), and keep enlarging the Kingdom.

I love you guys, I’ll see you next week.

Herb