Recently one of my Facebook friends put me onto a blog post by Sarah Orsborn that started with these words: “About three years ago, my husband and I set out on a course that completely revolutionized our faith.”
I was intrigued.
Orsborn said that she and her husband were sitting in their car listening to an interview with “No Impact Man,” a guy who is trying to live his life in New York City with little or no impact on the environment, something that was also important to the two of them. Somehow, in their journey toward a low-impact life, they discovered Rob Bell’s book, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith.
I’m not really sure what the connection is. I haven’t read Velvet Elvis. I know that Bell was, until recently, the popular pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, and that he has been considered one of the leading voices among evangelical Christians. Whatever the connection Orsborn and her husband read Velvet Elvis and then began to listen to Bell’s sermons via iTunes. They also discovered Brian McLaren’s book, The Secret Message of Jesus (McLaren is a prominent pastor, author, activist, speaker, and a leading figure in the “emergent church” movement).
Orsborn writes: “Through these authors we discovered the thing which completely changed our way of believing: Jesus didn’t come just so we could go away to some heavenly kingdom when we die, but so we can help make that heavenly kingdom a reality here on earth, right now. When Jesus said, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand’ He literally meant right here and right now. The kingdom where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, the New Jerusalem, is exploding into our reality starting with the resurrection and Jesus’ defeat of death. And we have the honor of being asked to participate in God’s project of renewing all things.”
I confess that I haven’t read a lot of Rob Bell or Brian McLaren, but I have immersed myself in the Gospels. Preaching and teaching them for the last 26 years has led me to the same conclusion, that “Jesus didn’t come just so we could go away to some heavenly kingdom when we die, but so we can help make that heavenly kingdom a reality here on earth, right now.”
If that’s true, then working to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, is not just a clever idea for a year-long, every-member mission trip, but a legitimate piece of the lifelong mission given to the church by Christ himself. It’s our piece, those of us who love Jesus and who live in the Richmond area. And today is a great day to get on with it. As Sharon Orsborn says, “Jesus came so we could help make that heavenly kingdom a reality here on earth,