Heaven and Earth Become One
When Jesus taught, as He was walking the face of the earth, it would probably be an understatement to say that He was a trendsetter. I was about to say that he was ahead of His time, but that’s not exactly true. When a movement in the Church happens and you hear someone preaching from a unique or different approach, then you might be called a person that is ahead of your time — ahead of the thinking and mindset of the people. So, it is more accurate to say that Jesus was ahead of the times and the thinking of people in which He lived — and probably way ahead of our times, even now. It’s sort of a bell-curve that seems outside of our capacity, maybe. It may be said that the central subject of all His discourse, ethics, and theology were focused on the Kingdom.
In the scripture there are two phrases about the Kingdom, “Kingdom of Heaven”, which seems to be unique to the book of Matthew, and the “Kingdom of God” found throughout the rest of scripture – these two phrases are used interchangeably in parallel scriptures. One reference is in Luke 16:16, where Jesus says that since the time of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2) “the Gospel of the Kingdom of God has been proclaimed.” The reason I point this out is because many times I can get caught up in the study of Greek or Hebrew words. I believe the important thing Jesus was trying to teach us is a new idea — or a series of ideas about this Kingdom of Heaven and of God.
Luke 17:20-21 (NLT) One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or “It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”
As Christian believers, we put things like heaven and God in a variety of places or with various feelings. At times we think of God as being far away in a place called heaven which is somewhere that is also far away, tucked safely away it seems to me — mostly out of fear, fear to be near Him. In a previous post called The In Between Priest, I talked about how there was a tradition of having priest between us and God in the tabernacle system and how Jesus came to do away with that by becoming our High Priest. However, there is a valuable lesson to learn about how they worshiped, and to do what they did which was good about it — they came together around the presence of God – for God, to seek Him. Today we do the same, we come together for God, not for a system or a building. His Kingdom is among us, near us, even in us – Jesus tries to get us to perceive the Kingdom in scriptures in so many ways. Even saying that it is like yeast in flour, which can not be separated from the dough once incorporated.
Matthew 13:33 (NLT) Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
We are all worshipers, worshiping all the time – Believer or not, we all worship something. It is either God or something like success, achievements, fear, our self-esteem, jealousy – insert your favorite idol here. “I know that I’m always right”, so there’s a simple idol for me. Sometimes I even make an idol of Jesus, especially when I create an idea of Him and find it difficult to let Him reveal Himself to me in a new way. Although, it has been my practice in life to cast down my idols. When our focus gets turned to the presence of God, even if it is only from time to time, we blur the lines between heaven and earth. I’ve been saying we are worshipers 24/7 since I was a teenager – yet there is something special that happens when we set aside time to worship. I’ve heard it said that the best minister of the Good News is a new born Christian, because that is the place where there is no shame and idols get cast down. As we continue on in our faith we need to set aside time to worship in an intimate way — a way that has nothing between us and the Father.
The question is not if the Kingdom of God is here or even His presence. I’m more concerned that we have brought this physical problems of perceiving the Kingdom that the Pharisees had, and isolated God’s presence to only a specific feeling. We need to be able to see the presence of God in an “Awe” or an “Ouch” moment. An example of God being in worship in an “Ouch” moment is a powerful song called, “Dying Star”, where worship leader Jason Upton gets an evaluation from God about trashing his idols.
At its simplest, a core value in worship songs should be intimacy and hunger for God, simples songs of love and devotion. Songs that are simple, that say what you want to say to God or in a prophetic sense what God wants to say to His people. Most churches have a well thought core values of faith. However, I would guess that very few churches have a well formed core values for worship. I would recommend reading Vineyard Worship Values. Vineyard Churches started out as home bible studies, people that were passionate about worshiping God with an intimate focus. The Vineyard exploded in growth and now have churches worldwide. I’d venture to say that every great movement of God across the land is directly linked to His presence alone – passionate focused people shining His light into the darkness.
My prayer is that your worship life is a place where heaven and earth become one, that your joy may be full, that your light would shine brightly for all to see this King of Glory, who shall come into our midst in a greater way as we take the time to welcome Him into our lives more.