The Call of the Kingdom

  • Question from MRI, United Kingdom

    Is there any sound theological to the idea of ‘balance?’ What I mean is when our faith is inspired, e.g. by Christians like Brother Yun (‘the Heavenly Man’) and we start consider being radical and think of living like that, but we override it with “Balance”. In what sense should we follow the call to be able to surrender where we are at in life with our work and family etc, and give up all our creature comforts and go for it, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us, and be obedient to God, even if it means being an outcast, rejected etc? Are we right to calm ourselves down and reason it out, saying ‘I’m sure that God wants us to be blessed’, but put to the back of our minds the call?

    The simple answer is that Jesus urges his followers repeatedly in the gospels to think and act differently from those around them. In Luke chapter 18 Peter says “We left everything to follow you.” Jesus then tells him that “No-one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much – in this age and in the age to come” (verses 28-30). You can read those verses how you will with regards rewards for believers, but they underline a couple of important things.

    Firstly, Jesus expects a change in our motivation for living. There is no higher call on our life than the call of God. He does not dismiss other responsibilities as unimportant – in fact listing them like that indicates they are not to be given up lightly. But he does want to make the point that the call comes first and that might mean giving up everything ‘normal’ in a radical life-changing way.

    Secondly, there is no intrinsic worth in giving up those things sacrificially, unless you are doing it for the Kingdom of God. We can be tempted to think that subscribing to some quasi-monastic ideal will make us holier in God’s sight. Well, there’s no guarantee, so we have to be honest and ask whether giving up something is going to further the Kingdom.

    Sometimes it can be harder to stay and try to live for Christ in a given situation where everybody knows your shortcomings and past mistakes. It is always tempting, when we hear or read about inspirational Christians like Brother Yun, to want to emulate them. But we have to follow our own call, not just copy what we see others doing.

    I doubt the theological answer will go all the way to putting your mind at rest on this topic, but I hope it will give you a basis for discovering how you can follow the call on your life wherever you are now. Thanks for asking the question and contributing to freelance theology.

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