The unshakable kingdom.

David Ruis, Nov 16, 2023, 4:52 PM
David Ruis National Director

To quote an old rockabilly song from the 1950's, "there's a whole lotta shakin' going on."

Science tells us that there is a phenomenon known as an "earthquake swarm." This is different than a foreshock and resulting quake, or that of a cluster of aftershocks following a primary heaving. In a swarm, no single earthquake in the sequence is obviously the main shock, and the resulting impact is, well, you can imagine.

It would seem that in the unfolding of current world events; crisis in leadership in all spheres of society and religion; weather cycles; wars; and you name it, we are in a swarm. Nothing short of a cosmic crisis. This all can certainly feel like the outworking of the Lords thunderous promise, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens" (Hebrews 12:26) This text goes on to describe the end result of Gods shaking activities as everything that is transient, temporary, secondary and second-rate will fall away so that only that which remains is the unshakable kingdom.

The unshakable kingdom.

One of my earliest recollections of hearing John Wimber speak was at a conference hosted in Anaheim in 1987. I distinctly remember him challenging those of us in attendance to consider the teachings of Jesus known as the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, as not just solid teaching to be applied to life and living, but at the actual core of what it means to be in God's Kingdom. The inference being that there is no way to understand a proper Kingdom Theology without these words of Christ. In our desire to be a people that engage in the "words and works" of Jesus, this then, is our baseline. This is the key to understanding our values, our theology and our call into spiritual formation and mission within the Vineyard family.

For us, this defines the unshakable ground that we stand on. It captures a vibrant articulation of the "kingdom now" as much as any of the miracles and manifestations we may experience. We plant our feet firmly on the truths it reveals and it is from this vantage point we proclaim the Lord is "at our right hand, we will not be shaken." (Psalm 16:8). No matter what is happening around us. No matter what may befall. No matter how deep the fog of mystery and the winds of uncertainty lash at our sails, we are secure. Unshaken, for:

Blessed are the poor in spirit. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn. They will find comfort. Blessed are the meek. Inheritance is sure. No need to grasp, or fight or cajole. Blessed are the ones who hunger and thirst for justice.They will be satisfied in the tension of this come and coming kingdom. Blessed are the single of heart, pure in motive and sincere in devotion.  Free of religious striving. Simple. Uncomplicated. They will see God. Blessed are those who work for peace for these truly are God's children born again into a new way. A covenant of love. Blessed are those persecuted in the pursuit of setting things right. This is kingdom work and the kingdom is theirs.

The unshakable kingdom.

Willard captures it this way, "No one is actually being told that they are better off for being poor, for mourning, for being persecuted, and so on, or that the conditions listed are recommended ways to well-being before God or man. Nor are the Beatitudes indications of who will be on top "after the revolution." They are explanations and illustrations, drawn from the immediate setting, of the present availability of the kingdom through personal relationship to Jesus. They single out cases that provide proof that, in him, the rule of God from the heavens truly is available in life circumstances that are beyond all human hope . . ." Yes, even in a swarm. Secure. Having done all to stand, still standing.

The unshakable kingdom.

May it be that so much of what we have come to describe as blessing, how we have measured how God is with, or not with us,  is actually falling away? May it be that so much of what we have relied on as signs of blessing and the presence of God with us may prove to be simply illusions and idols that need to fade and crumble? May it be that the pride and resulting tribalism that fuels partisanship, prejudice, polarization and nationalism, is being exposed for the self promotion and preservation it instills? May it be that so many of those who we saw as ones void of blessing and far from God, may have actually been those who are truly blessed and near to Him. As James observed, "Listen, has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom he promised?" (James 2:5)

The unshakable kingdom.

Jesus, suspended high in the stratosphere with the devil at his side, was shown all the kingdoms of the world in the blink of an eye. And in that same flash and with a demonic whisper, it was all offered to him. Just take it. "The temptation is not to claim all the kingdoms of the earth, but rather to claim them prematurely and by an easy concession to the power of evil." (González, J. L. (2010). Luke (A. P. Pauw & W. C. Placher, Eds.; p. 60). Westminster John Knox Press.) Ah, and yet in the unshakeable reign, the end does not justify the means. Blessing is found in the moment for the Father is always working. Here we stand. In the liminal. In the waiting. Not the grasping, reaching and leveraging that comes from worshiping at the feet of the evil one. Resist. Be beatitudinal. Unshakable.

Yes. This is the ground we stand on. The unshakeable kingdom.

Let the kingdom come.