So, if we don’t use guilt to hook people, what do we do? We do what Jesus did, of course.
What people admire about Jesus is that what he said matched what he did. You can understand Jesus’ words through the lens of his life. You can understand what he did from what he said. The life of the king was the life of the kingdom.
The Sermon on the Mount was his kingdom manifesto, manifested in his life. The king brings the blessing of the kingdom to the poor. He comforts those who mourn. In his cross, the meek inherit the earth. He satisfies our hunger and thirst for the realm to be set right.
This king commissions his people to do the same, to embody the life of the kingdom as he did. It’s the only thing we can do that makes a lasting difference:
Matthew 7:24–27 (NIV)
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Picture the crowd on Galilee’s hills. They knew the history behind these words. The house of Abraham had fallen so many times. They had been slaves in Egypt, pillaged in the time of Judges, battling the nations in the time of the kings. The house of Israel came crashing down before Assyria, and they were washed away into exile in Babylon.
Now their heavenly sovereign had anointed a ruler to rescue them, to restore heaven’s reign on earth. This divinely appointed king tells his people, “Put this kingdom instruction into practice. Only if you live as the kingdom can the house survive.”
King Jesus did not wander around his realm pointing out people’s failures, and he didn’t commission us to do that either. He was the homeless king, wandering around his realm caring for his people. That’s what kingdom life looks like. Our calling is to enact his kingship — doing for others what we would enjoy, what the king wants for them.
Can we do church life so it looks like that? What would be different if our goal was to incarnate the life of our king on earth? What must we realign to fulfil that commission?
Imagine life on earth when the kingdom of God defines what the church does. Jesus did.
One thought on “So what do we do if we don’t preach guilt?”
To answer your first question, we preach grace. Reminds me of that old Hymn, And can it be….
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