Study Guide: The Kingdom’s King

Sunday October 10, 2004 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Lately, Greg has been talking about the importance of being “awake” and “single-minded.” In this sermon he discussed how both of these things are understood most fully in Christ. He focused on Christ's compelling love and the distinction between saying that you believe something and allowing a truth to penetrate so deep into your very being that it compels you.

Extended Summary:

Greg started out by asking us to reflect on how awake we have been this last week. He recalled a challenge that Tony Campolo offered, where a Buddhist is said to have been puzzled by the way we teach our children to pray: “Rather than pray, ‘If I should die before I wake…’ it seems we ought to pray, ‘Lord help me to wake before I die.’” This state of being awake has been strongly connected to being single-minded in recent sermons. Today we will see how being awake and single-minded are understood most fully in Christ.

The development of thought flows naturally when we look at the two passages Greg pointed out: John 14:6-10 and 2 Cor. 5:14-15. In John 14 Jesus clearly claims to be one with God. Included is the claim that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. There is only one true way, truth and life! The second passage Greg took us to shows how Paul built upon this claim. The work of Christ was to die for all. Paul claims that in Christ’s death, all are considered dead. Christ’s work was for all, and so his death was for all. Likewise, Christ’s resurrection is for all as well, so death has been dealt with by Christ’s taking it upon himself for our sake! Christ then extends to us new life through the power of the resurrection. This new life has a pattern that is the one way, it is the truth, and it is our only real life. Paul puts it like this, “that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” To participate in the new life available in Christ means to live for others and for Christ. When we fail in this we also fail to remain awake and single-minded.

The remainder of Greg’s sermon was focused on the idea that it is the love of Christ that compels us, constrains us and surrounds us. Paul was so compelled because he was convinced that Christ died for all. Here again is the starting point of the argument laid out in the paragraph above. It is one thing to say that you believe something; it is quite another for that truth to penetrate deep into your very being so deeply that it compels you just as hunger would compels you to eat. The desire, the need would be so strong that you would be quite single-minded about satisfying your hunger. In fact, Kingdom single-mindedness is far more single-minded than any earthly need (like satisfying physical hunger) because that which meets the need is available eternally and therefore at every moment of our lives both in this life and the next. This is not true of physical food or any other earthly desire. So only one thing, that is one way, one truth, one life, can be the goal of true single-mindedness. Anything else we try to be single-minded about will drive a wedge between our lives now and our lives in heaven. (To say nothing of the incomplete ways these other desires are met even now.) All of this is simply to agree with John 14:6-10.

Some of the lies we live with directly resist our embracing fully the love of God in Christ. Even when we confess with our mouths, there are still dark corners of our soul that remain unexposed to God’s light because we shelter those areas with pain and perhaps hurtful memories which seem to defy the truth of God’s love. To offer hope, Greg showed us a clip of the movie Good Will Hunting showing Will being confronted by his therapist. The therapist states firmly and persistently that the physical abuse suffered by Will was not Will’s fault. Will agreed. But the therapist said it again. Will seemed puzzled as the repetition continued. Finally Will seemed defiant and agitated. Then something broke in Will, and the words penetrated deeper than they had ever before. Will experienced a breakthrough that set him free in a dark corner of his soul where he harbored the lie that his abuse as a child was his own fault rather than the responsibility of the adults involved. Much like this, Jesus persistently communicates love toward us, so persistently that it may make us uncomfortable. Despite our sin, which we are responsible for, Jesus communicates our acceptance and worth even more persistently than Will’s therapist. So much greater is the grace of God than any other form of healing! We, as the body of Christ, have the authority and responsibility to communicate this truth about Christ’s love for one another, and for the world with the demeanor and persistence worth of the amazing message we bear!

Reflection Questions:

  1. The last few weeks we’ve spent some time on the biblical challenge to “stay awake.” At this point, what does it mean to you to “stay awake”? (See previous study guide for list of references if needed.)
  2. Share with one another how you’ve been doing! Are there moments when you really felt “awake” spiritually this past week? Describe them.
  3. What is it that compels us to “stay awake” or to walk in the Spirit (Romans 8)?