“To be or not to be—that is the question!” This quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet meant to ponder whether to live or die. This week’s article is similar, and it addresses ‘being’ in God’s Kingdom: Be and live . . . or don’t be and [spiritually] die. But be what? And what matters more: words or actions; speech or Christianity in motion?
The answer should be obvious, but let’s have fun getting there. Words can be cheap or useless—especially if there’s no accompanying action. It’s more about what we do, not what we say. And if our words don’t match our actions or are venomous, we may keep people from God’s Kingdom by making it unattractive or out of reach!
Don’t say you love—be loving. Don’t say ‘Jesus is Lord’—make Him Lord by devoting all you have and are to Him (this complete devotion is what we confess in Romans 10:9). Don’t throw out a bunch of Christianese people don’t understand and call it evangelism! SHOW them God’s Kingdom through charity, justice, and mercy, using words when it makes sense—and only meaningful terms and relative examples! If you feel adventurous, Google the Letter to Diognetus.
In it, an early first-century Church father (most likely Clement) tells Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ tutor about the behavior of persecuted Christians who lived according to Jesus’ teachings and God’s ways within their communities. The focus was on the behavior of Christians who didn’t isolate themselves but brought God’s Kingdom near to the people in their cultures by ‘being.’ No bullying. No programs. No Chick Tracts. Now, THAT’S an attractional Church!
We, too, can ‘be’ in what I call ‘be-attitudes’ (yes, I meant the pun!).
- Be truthful. “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices . . .” (Colossians 3:9)
- Be charitable. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 – see also James 2:14-26 and Ephesians 2:10)
- Be just and merciful. “. . . And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
- Be sexually pure and active in response to God’s gift of life. “. . . For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
In summary, ‘be’ according to God’s desires and live. Be what? Truthful, charitable, merciful, pure, and wholly devoted to God. Now that we know ‘being’ is way better than ‘not being,’ let’s check out what we’re NOT to be as we define and dig into the origin of sin in a multi-part “There’s nothing original about sin!”
Blessings and peace,
Dr. Ron Braley, MDiv, DMin.