Kingdom Principle: The church is to be an epiphany (paradigm shift) for the world.
|Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18||Psalm 119:33-40||1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23||Matthew 5:38-48|
A paradigm is a lens by which you see the world around you. I am a Stephen Covey “fan” and I follow and teach the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. While I think the principles are great and life changing – the best thing about the book is the clarity by which Covey brings to the power of your Paradigm. You can not follow the principles of Covey’s 7 Habits if your hold to a Paradigm which is at odds with Covey’s. In the same way you cannot live out the principles of the Kingdom as outline in this blog if you hold to a Paradigm that is at odd with the King of Kingdom – Jesus Christ. This means you have to see; the world, yourself, others, and “God” as Jesus sees them, in order to live out these principles. I have stated elsewhere about the Kingdom having its own paradigm and the required Paradigm-Shift. To have a paradigm shift – is as simple as choice to call a lie, a lie, which you once held as a truth. This choice can be small, but have profound effects. (see last week) A paradigm shift may also require you to embrace that the purpose of life is now within your grasp, and up until this point in life, you believed it was not.
Let me briefly share an example of a minor paradigm-shift that took place in Covey’s life:
Stephen Covey tells the story of being on a subway one Sunday morning when a man and his children board a train. Immediately the kids start running up and down the train car annoying riders, yelling, screaming and knocking papers out of readers hands. Finally Covey could no longer stand the apparent disregard and discipline this parent was showing. He said the man, “Mister you need to correct your children, they are bothering the passengers.” The man looks up from his daze and takes notice. Oh, I’m sorry. We just left the hospital where their mother died about one hour ago. I guess they don’t know how to handle it and frankly I don’t either.
Covey says his paradigm immediately shifted from being critical to being empathic. The new information changed the way he saw the situation, caused different behavior and got a different result.
Do you see all of life through the paradigm of the Kingdom of Heaven? (Covey’s Paradigm is not wrong, yet it is not a Kingdom Paradigm. – the difference I see is that in a Kingdom Paradigm; the King’s control, King’s happiness and King’s purposes are to be our focus not our own control of events, pursuits of happiness and self-directed purpose. However, Covey’s Paradigm remains vital and valuable to develop the servant leader’s choices within a Kingdom Paradigm.) Those who enjoy and live from a Kingdom Paradigm consider their identity as being rooted established in the Love of God. (Eph 3:14-20) This is simply stated as being a child of our Father in Heaven in today’s text. My wife & I have attempted to teach our children this paradigm by reciting with them every morning before school:
I am a child of God, friend and follow of Jesus, and temple of the Holy Spirit. I will lead, love and listen first today. – My youngest son changed the second sentence saying; I will lead and love through listening first today… I liked that much better and it stuck.
There are two key paradigm shifts of this week’s scripture. First, YOU ARE to be HOLY- just as God is Holy. Therefore be perfect as you heavenly Father is perfect. This state of perfection is only possible due to the fact that the very Spirit of God lives within you. Second, YOU ARE THE TEMPLE OF GOD. This shift brings together the paradigm shift that the Church is not a building. We as the holy, pure, spotless body of Christ, are called to build bridges not walls. Further this is not an individual lens or perspective, the YOU is plural, together with all the saints YOU are the church. (1 Cor. 3 is a corporate understanding of being the temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 6 speaks to you a being individually the temple of the Holy Spirit.) It is for this reason that the church must cry out to God to teach them, give them, direct them, turning their heart& eyes, fulfilling His promises, and to take away their disgrace that holiness may be demonstrated throughout the world. To be Holy is to be set apart, to be Perfect is to be complete. We are set apart, as called and filled by the Spirit, but growth is the call of children and this call is to be mature, fully developed and devoted (perfected) followers of Jesus Christ.
How is your paradigm in line with being Perfect & Holy? (the call of the church Eph. 5:25-32, Rev. 19:7-8) There are two ways to seek this perfection and holiness. By following the law as perfectly outlined in our Leviticus text today… or by following Jesus who fulfilled the law, (but did not abolish it). (Romans 9:30-10:17 outlines this tension well) The fulfillment found in the life of Christ is the paradigm shift needed to enter the Kingdom.
You cannot begin to love your enemies prior to living in this paradigm, it is contrary to the nature of your soul. You cannot do any other than to love those who love you and greet those whom you already know – for this is a paradigm that the even the “pagans” of the world value.
Below are 10 paradigms shifts offered by the Leadership Network to help churches impact their communities with good deeds and the good news of the Gospel. Which of these below will require the greatest shift for you to embrace? Which of these below do you currently hold as truth? Regardless of the words below – Do you consider your body to be the temple of the Holy Spirit? If not don’t read on… it will simply become another list of to-do’s.
The Church to be pure, holy and spotless must move;
1. From building walls to building bridges.
2. From measuring attendance to measuring impact.
3. From encouraging the saints to attend the service to equipping the saints for works of service.
4. From “serve us” to service—from inward to outward focus.
5. From duplication of human services and ministries to partnering with existing services and ministries.
6. From fellowship to functional unity.
7. From condemning the city to blessing the city and praying for it.
8. From being a minister in a congregation to being a minister in a parish.
9. From anecdote and speculation to valid information.
10. From teacher to learner.