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His name, our passion: Reflections on Kingdom Christians
October 25, 2004
By Kenneth Hemphill, National Strategist, Empowering Kingdom Growth
Am I a Kingdom person? Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, has been challenging Southern Baptists to ask themselves this question. I think we would agree that it is a penetrating and challenging question that will help to ensure that we are focusing on those things that are on the heart of our Father.
As I have been studying the concept of the Kingdom of God in Scripture, I have isolated three primary issues that are at the heart of Kingdom thinking. God is looking for a people who will embody His name, embrace His mission to the nations and obey His Word.
Specifically focusing on what it means to embody His name, Jesus declared in His great high priestly prayer: "I manifested Thy name to the men Thou gavest me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me, and they have kept Thy word" (John 17:6).
Jesus had conducted Himself in such a manner that when people saw Him, they would recognize His family resemblance. When Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, He responded: "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, 'Show us the Father?'"
When I left for college, I was prepared for the "father-sending-his-son-to-college-speech" that most of us have heard or given at one time or another. My dad made only one request: "Son, you bear my name. Don't take it anywhere I wouldn't take it and don't associate it with anything I wouldn't associate it with." That single piece of advice radically impacted my life. Whenever faced with a challenging situation, all I had to ask myself was, "How would my father respond?"
You can actually restate the "Am I a Kingdom person?" question in a slightly different manner. "Do my actions, words, deeds and interpersonal relationships reflect my Heavenly Father's character?"
To embody the Father's name means that we make a commitment to allow the Spirit to produce the character of the Father through us. It is a commitment to personal holiness. This is precisely the point Jesus was making when He declared that Kingdom citizens are salt and light.
Salt refers to a holy lifestyle, and it is this holiness that gives credibility to our witness. When we have a consistent and godly lifestyle, it gives us greater confidence to give our testimony and declare our faith in the marketplace.
When we think of salt, we immediately think of a condiment that enriches the flavor of food, but salt had many uses in Jesus' day. Thus, the reference to Kingdom persons as salt may have triggered several different thoughts in the minds of those first-century hearers.
Before the day of refrigerators, salt was used as a preservative. Jesus was challenging His disciples to be a preservative in the midst of a decaying world. Salt also was used as an antiseptic to purify or disinfect a wound. When salt is used as an antiseptic, it may well cause pain or discomfort as it fights the germs of infection. Indeed, the world may plead that we be more tolerant or understanding, but we cannot disinfect a dying world if we compromise with sin.
Salt also was used as a catalyst for fire. To make the ovens burn better, the bottom was lined with salt plates and the fuel was sprinkled with salt. The followers of Jesus are to live in such a manner that they ignite and accelerate spiritual fires at school, work or play.
We are most familiar with salt as a seasoning. Christians are to be the spice of life. Our Kingdom lifestyle should exude such flavor that it creates a hunger and thirst for the Gospel. Salty living means that we must embrace a lifestyle that is consistent with the character of our Father. Savorless Christianity is as useless as flavorless salt. We must embrace a Kingdom lifestyle to enforce the credibility of our witness.
How long has it been since someone asked you about your salty lifestyle? Can you imagine what would happen in our Southern Baptist Convention if each one of us made a commitment to embody our Father's character? (BP)