This post is part of an ongoing guest blogger series on the kingdom of God.
Today, we will hear from Josh Brown:
I got “saved” at age 16. I got “called to ministry” at 18. And then spent the next 8 years working for mega-churches, going to seminary, and attending trendy conferences. I was being groomed to be a “next-generations communicator”, whatever the hell that means. I spoke weekly to large groups of high school students. I had a rather nice salary complete with retirement investments and health insurance. And I’ll tell you a little secret if you promise not to tell anyone . . . I voted for . . . ahem . . . Bush. Twice.
Needless to say I was a card carrying member of the establishment.
Then Jesus messed up my life.
Anna and I got married and went on our honeymoon. That’s a revelatory experience for most people. But we met this couple while there and became instant friends. This couple lived together before they got married (gasp!). And believe it or not, they couldn’t find a pastor or church that would allow them to get married because of their “indiscretions”.
Being that we were a few miles away from the equator, we figured it was safe enough for us to have a beer without fear of losing our jobs. I thought it was safe enough for me to light up a nice cigar. And we found it safe enough to be able to talk about what we really felt about church and Jesus with our new friends. So we told them that something along the lines that Jesus isn’t really anything like the church. I think the words that I used to describe their situation sounded similar to “That’s bull shit they wouldn’t marry you!”
After a week of conversations with our new friends about Jesus, faith, culture, etc, (conversations that we wouldn’t have been able to have back home), Anna and I had an epiphany of sorts. How odd is it that we have to travel half way around the globe in order to be far enough removed from “the church” that we feel safe enough to talk about and do all the things that we know to be true? How is it that if we talked about any of this back home or did any of this back home, we would be sent into exile?
It is at that moment that we realized we weren’t living into the kingdom of God. Rather we were building an establishment.
The gospel doesn’t work well in the hands of the establishment. It doesn’t work well in the hands of “the man”. The kingdom of God is antithetical to power and control. It defies organization and categorization. And any time power or control, organization or categories, get their hands on the gospel, it gets neutered.
Fast forward to today . . . our non-Christian (as they are defined by the church) honeymoon friends are actively involved in a faith community back home and recently had their daughter baptized into the church. We’ve been to visit them in Wisconsin and they’ve been to visit us in Atlanta. Anna and I now both work from home. We haven’t been to church but twice in 2 years. We give away more of our money than we ever did before. And I mega-loathe Georgie boy. We also are now living into and living out the kingdom of God as opposed to building an empire.
Funny how Jesus messes things up when we actually take his words seriously.
Josh Brown is a dreamer, co-creator, and adventurer. As long as the adventuring doesn’t involve heights. He’s was a former staff member with a couple of evangelical megachurches before he called it quits a couple of years ago. Now he sits at home all day where he reads, travels, and blogs. And when he gets desperate for money, he runs Red Cowboy Designs (www.redcowboydesigns.com). He’s the ugly half of www.thenickandjoshpodcast.com. And likes to think of himself as an affable bloke. One day soon he’s going to put on his big boy pants and re-enter a faith community. For now, he’s busy just plotting and imagining what that day will look like. And working on the courage to take that jump.