11 Jul A Kingdom Environment
Galatians 4:26-27 – But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written [Isaiah 54:1], “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.”
Over the years, I’ve had the honor of teaching in a lot of different churches and being in the homes of a lot of families. Subsequently, I’ve gotten to witness and experience a wide variety of environments. One of the favorite environments I have been in is a loving, joyful, healthy and relational church that feels like an awesome family. As I got to know the godly family leading the church, I realized that the church family is basically like an overflow of their family and one big, fun, Godly extended family. This church has been growing for years because it is life-giving in a world that is life-taking, and burden-lifting in a world that is burden-giving. People who come in and participate in the church family simply get healthy and then bring more people to also get healthy.
The family and church family you live in each have an environment, culture, or atmosphere. Examples include the violent home, the cold, aloof, and non-relational family, or the critical and judgmental household. Throughout the Bible, the Kingdom of God (sometimes called the New Jerusalem) is depicted as our true home. The Kingdom of God, right now, has a culture. God wants the culture of our family and church family to be the same as His Kingdom culture. This is, in part, why Jesus Christ came down from heaven, and we repeatedly see the Holy Spirit falling on people from above – to bring the culture of the Kingdom to the earth.
When Paul quotes the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, he is using the analogy of child birth to explain the law and the gospel of grace. The law includes the 613 laws in the first five books of the Bible, and they accomplished three things. One, they revealed God’s holiness. Two, they revealed our sinfulness and need for a Savior. Three, they kept God’s people distinct from the rest of the world keeping them for the coming of Jesus to fulfill the law for them. The law was in effect for a long time, and painful to live under – just like childbirth. The law, like the pain of child birth, served the important purpose of birthing new life once the grace of God was poured out because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this way, the law is like childbirth – unpleasant but necessary and temporarily used to birth new life. Just as childbirth is the incredibly painful process that births new life, so too the pain we endure is used of God to birth something new in our life. Just as a baby is brought home from the hospital to life with their parents, so born again Christians are to live in their home and church home in an environment of grace so they can experience health and grow.
How has God used something painful in your life to birth something new and good?