Friday, July 26, 2019

The Practical Relevance of Actual Obedience by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
I am reading a book that was recommended to me by a pastor. It is getting me to think deeply about the “Kingdom of God” and how it is “at hand” and “not yet,” not only generally speaking, but personally, in my life, on a daily basis.

My thoughts on the subject, coupled with a growing, currently six-month-long deep dive into the Sermon on the Mount, have really got me to think and rethink not only my life as a Christian, but also the words I put down on the page as an author.

In the book, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, author Dallas Willard says this in the introduction:

“More than any other single thing, in any case, the practical irrelevance of actual obedience to Christ accounts for the weakened effect of Christianity in the world today, with its increasing tendency to emphasize political and social action as the primary way to serve God. It also accounts for the practical irrelevance of Christian faith to individual character development and overall personal sanity and well-being” (p. xv).

Although I have not finished reading Willard’s book yet, I’m not sure there is a more succinct paragraph than this one, pertaining to the ills that plague the Church today. And may I say, possibly to those of us who write.

What do I mean exactly?

Later in the book, Willard points out when Jesus came into the world, he said that anyone who finds him will be safe. They will go in and out and have all that they need. Jesus said he came into the world so anyone who found him could have life, and that life would be filled to the fullest measure.

But then Willard goes on to say this:

“But intelligent, effectual entry into this life is currently obstructed by clouds of well-intentioned misinformation. The ‘gospels’ that predominate where he is most frequently invoked speak only of preparing to die or else of correcting social practices and conditions…Our ‘gospels’ are, in their effects—dare we say it—nothing less than a standing invitation to omit God from the course of our daily existence. Does Jesus only enable me to ‘make the cut’ when I die? Or to know what to protest, or how to vote or agitate and organize? It is good to know that when I die all will be well, but is there any good news for life? If I had to choose, I would rather have a car that runs than good insurance on one that doesn’t. Can I not have both? And what social or political arrangements—however important in their own right—can guide and empower me to be the person I know I ought to be? Can anyone now seriously believe that if people are only permitted or enabled to do what they want, they will then be happy or more disposed to do what is right” (p. 12)?

In other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been watered down in the modern church. It’s either “fire insurance” for those who are hell-bent on not going there, or a means by which to effectually jump on some social or political bandwagon, hoping to turn the steering wheel to the right or the left.

However, the question that Willard is slowly and methodically raising is this: Is there more to this life Jesus said was abundant and free? Can this life be here and now, too? Not just in the hereafter? And if so, what shall that life in Christ look like? To us, as we look into the mirror of our own lives? To our family members, as they view us more intimately than others? To our neighbors, our co-workers, acquaintances, and real strangers, who see us interact on a daily basis in the everyday world? If the Kingdom of Heaven is “here now” and “not yet,” then it seems the answer is definitely in the affirmative. It is the practical relevance of actual obedience that answers this question. The daily walk with Christ, mirroring his teachings given in the famous Sermon on the Mount, that brings all of Scripture together into a clear, practical, relevant lifestyle that develops an abundance of character and brings sanity and well-being that transcends all understanding.

Dare we say it—much of what we have seen in the church over the last two, three, even four decades has been very superficial. The inch-deep/mile-wide teachings when it comes to salvation have not done our fledgling brothers and sisters in Christ any favors. A capitalistic emphasis upon how money should be viewed has tricked entire generations of Christians into thinking “more” equates spiritual success and blessing from On High. And the emphasis on attempting to create a “Christian nation” here on earth could not be more foreign to the gospel of Christ, yet is embraced by the church wholeheartedly as a worthy and necessary endeavor for ourselves and our posterity. Yet, one must ask, why do we need a Christian nation when the Kingdom of Heaven is already upon us? Do we think we can do it one better?

So, now, in light of this little devotion, my fellow writer, what kingdom principles do you weave into your works? How does the Kingdom of Heaven manifest itself in your writing? In your storylines? In the overall arch of your main characters? Is the main emphasis to get the bad guy “saved”? What does that mean exactly within the world you have built between the front matter and the back cover copy? Was it about proving to the reader that conservative principles about family or marriage or abortion are better than liberal principles? Or vice versa? Have we been building the Kingdom of Heaven, or have we been working hard to forge a well-intentioned Kingdom of misinformation here on Earth?

You see, when we write our fiction (or non-fiction, for that matter), we have a monumental duty to be true to the Scriptures, even when they may challenge us “to be who we ought to be” in Christ, as well as when that path is diametrically opposed to the “well-intentioned misinformation” being espoused each and every Sunday. When you write, you become a teacher to varying degrees, and the Bible says teachers will be held to a higher standard, did it not (James 3:1)?

Folks, this is why the world seems to be coming apart at the seams. This is why young people are leaving the church in droves. This is why suicide and mass shootings and terrorist activity runs rampant. This is why people gather in streets and block traffic so they can yell and denigrate others. It’s an irrelevancy issue. The people of this world do not see an answer anymore to the ills they feel inside. They search and search, and we have the answer! However, the attitude of Christians’ “practical irrelevance of actual obedience to Christ” has obscured the only cure for what ails humanity, and the world’s growing propensity to implode is a direct result of this unfortunate fact.

But there is hope. There is a movement among God’s elect. I see it. I feel it. I am in the middle of it. I am experiencing it myself. I know of many brothers and sisters who are experiencing it for themselves as well. And it is making me take my writing and examine it through the lens of Scripture in new and fresh ways, starting with the Sermon on the Mount and branching out from there to encapsulate all of the Old and New Testaments as they agree and complement one another, all for the purpose of making it relevant and Kingdom worthy.

Will you join me in this quest for practical relevance to actual obedience in your life and writing? The world is searching, and maybe they can find the answer in something Kingdom worthy you put down on the page.

“It is the practical relevance of actual obedience that answers this question. The daily walk with Christ...that develops an abundance of character and brings sanity and well-being that transcends all understanding.” #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @CKevinThompson

The Blake Meyer Thriller Series Book 4

An Insane Retribution. An Insidious Radical. An Intense Reunion.

When he got married, Supervisory Special Agent Blake Meyer worried that shielding his family from his past would prove to be formidable. Now, as precious time ticks away, Blake finds himself flying over the ocean at twenty thousand feet, searching for his family, and watching helplessly as his greatest fear wraps its tentacles around his past, present, and future, inextricably weaving them into a deadly game of vengeance.

With the help of his longtime friend, Harrison Kelly, and a small band of soldiers, Blake sets out to rescue the only people he has ever truly loved…before it’s too late.

However, unbeknownst to Blake, retooled plans have been set in motion to keep the contagion in play. To keep the threat alive. To bring a country to its knees. And forge the dawning of a new era.

One free of American interference.

One dominated and controlled by those who survive the carnage.

One without Blake Meyer.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a kid at heart. Often referred to as “crazy” by his grandchildren, it’s only because he is. He’s a writer. Need he say more?

The first four books of his Blake Meyer Thriller series are out! Book 1, 30 Days Hath Revenge, Book 2, Triple Time, Book 3, The Tide of Times, and Book 4, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen, are now available!! Also, the second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is also now available!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, NCIS, Criminal Minds, BBC shows Broadchurch, Shetland, Hinterland, and Wallander, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too. But you will never catch him wearing a deerstalker. Ever.

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:
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