The church that dies and the church that occupies
If you have ever wept singing Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, or tearfully marveled at the sweeping simplicity of a thief promised eternal paradise merely for recognizing the King, you know that Christianity doesn’t categorize very easily. It’s not spiritual botany, stuck in there between the ferns and the fungus. It is the book, the only book, and it’s full of delightful paradox that serves as testimony to its other-worldly origin: it beams down at us from a celestial dimension we don’t understand.
If you don’t think so try balancing “to die is gain” and “occupy till I come.” It is a transcendent message, to be certain, pastor, a soul-changing message, and so you’ll have to forgive me if I get political, and start loading my pistol, but there are some bad men in black out there kicking up dust, and your congregation needs to hear something you haven’t been telling them.
You see, there are two kinds of Christianity out there — the sort that occupies and the sort that dies — and there really should be only one, the sort that does both, but the church is a work in progress and it’s important to remember that world history has seen God’s people swing, wildly, too far in either direction. They get damned attached to their brand, and they’re missing something in the process.
The truth is that real courage and a real investment in the “things above” begins with the notion that you are already dead. You died with Christ to the things of this world. You are a bad ass soldier of the most high, a Citizen of Heaven, a joint heir; you are one of those who doesn’t really fear the sort that can throw you in an earthly grave. You fear The Guy who can throw you in hell too — and because you do, He’s sharing His glory with you. You get to judge the earth. Shake the dust off your feet, if they won’t listen, boys, and that village is toast.
That might make the ladies nervous, so remember, that because you’re strong, because you’re dead, because you’re alive, you plant vineyards and you tend them, pressing the wine, until He returns. You occupy. You are an agent of wrath against the wicked. In God’s good timing, sometimes you crusade and sometimes you show the little ones how to tend the sheep, how to plant the corn. You do both, you idiots. You occupy, you buy the swords, and you also die to the failed systems of this world, because — listen carefully — you are building heaven right here on earth. You actually mean what you say, when you pray, “thy will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven.”
To make this a bit more plain, folks, don’t choose either form of Christianity. Choose one that recognizes HE IS KING RIGHT NOW.