This blog series is about the kingdom, so let’s talk about the kingdom. In Part 1, I argued that the way in which we view the world actually tells us a lot about the way we view the kingdom of God and our role within it. If we look at the world through pessimism or evilism (a word I created) and if we look at ourselves as guerrilla warrior against an evil establishment rather than ambassadors for the king, then we really don’t believe that Jesus is king right here and right now. What is unmistakable in Scripture is the belief that Jesus is, in fact, king right here and right now.
This leads us to the question of this post: how do we talk about our king? As ambassadors of the king, how do we herald the message of the kingdom?
I once heard a business man say that every business and sales man or woman needs to have a fifteen second speech ready at all times so that in the time it takes to get one floor on an elevator, one can make a concise and clear pitch. As followers of Jesus, are we able to do the same thing? Can we give a concise and clear kingdom message in fifteen seconds? What would we say?
How do we herald the message of the kingdom?
In a sermon series from June 2014, Andy Stanley asked a similar question and he proposed a response: “I believe Jesus died for my sin and rose from the dead, but not because the Bible says so. I believe because Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James and Paul said so. They were eyewitnesses and friends of eyewitnesses.” This response would work in certain settings, however, it requires the recipient to have a basic knowledge of the Bible and Christian belief. They would have to know who Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are, for example. Additionally, outside of mentioning Jesus dying for my sins, it does not mention what it means for the hearer or for the world. And, to be fair, the question Andy Stanley was addressing was “How can you believe…” instead of “What do you believe…?”
When you and I try to answer the “What do you believe?” question, the response can easy become unwieldy. Do we start with God? Creation? Jesus? Sin? Our own story? From there do we talk about forgiveness, faith or justification? How do we end? It’s easy to see how the person who asked the question could end up getting a sermon they have to wade through and not a sound bite that they can remember and think about.
Sermon or sound bite?
I don’t think there is a single answer that works for everyone in every circumstance but as I have thought about this all week, I think I have developed an answer that works for me (and it was surprisingly hard).
You’re a Christian, what do you believe? I believe a perfect God made a perfect world; human beings became prideful and greedy and broke our relationship with God but God sent Jesus to show us what God is like, what the world was supposed to be like and to make a way for us to have a relationship with God again.
That is about an fifteen second answer. It may not be perfect but it tells the problem and the solution, it’s easy to remember and it leaves room for follow up questions.
Now it’s your turn. What is your fifteen second kingdom message?