(NOTE: Three weeks of illness and the Christmas holiday left the blog dark during December, but it now returns to its weekly schedule.)
J.P. Moreland in his book Kingdom Triangle recommends the following: "Each year, I ask myself this question: How much of my life and ministry last year required the existence of the Christian God to explain it? How much would have happened if God did not exist? Here's the point: Life in the Kingdom - corporately in our churches and individually - is a supernatural colaboring with God in which we both matter." That's a tough question and one that simultaneously caused me to reflect on my participation in expanding the boundaries of the Kingdom by God's power and repent over living a naturally unsupernatural life.
Moreland's book (as the title suggests) presents a three-part strategy for advancing the Kingdom. First, developing the life of the mind, learning what and why we believe and acquiring a thoughtful Christian worldview. Worldview as an important concept for the church is gaining momentum. Chuck Colson says that Christianity itself is a worldview - a set of beliefs by which we make sense of the world, define reality, answer life's ultimate questions. Moreland's challenge here is to make sure our beliefs are biblically accurate, to make sure that we actually believe they are true, and to put these beliefs on center stage in what we hold to be real - our worldviews.
Second, cultivating our inner lives by developing emotional intimacy with God through spiritual disciplines and literature of the formation of the church. Jonathan Edwards would call this the development of religious affections where our desires and our wills are aligned with the desires of God. No small task and disciplines like silence, solitude, meditation, contemplative prayer, memorization, and fasting when understood and applied can provide the nutrients necessary for flourishing spiritual growth.
Third, Moreland urges us to learn to live in and use the Spirit's power and authority of the Kingdom of God, developing a supernatural lifestyle, receiving answers to prayers, learning to effectively pray for healing and demonic deliverance, and sharpening our ability to hear God's voice. This, of course, is the point of the quoted question. Have we lived lives of self-powered moral uprightness where the shining best is really just mediocre, or have we hurried on the path to walk shoulder to shoulder with Jesus encountering whatever comes our way in the power of the Spirit and the authority of Jesus?
These three ideas, recovering the Christian mind, renovating the soul, and restoring the power of the Spirit form what intelligent design theorists call an irreducible complexity. Michael Behe describes an irreducibly complex system as "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning." If we fail to develop any one of the three legs of the Kingdom Triangle, Kingdom life will break down. If our Christian beliefs are not what we hold to be really real, if our desires are not joined at the hip with God's desires, if we fail to rely on the power of the Spirit or exercise the authority of Jesus, our lives and the lives of those we touch will remain locked in the realm of what we can see, taste, hear, smell, and touch. Our deepest longings will remain unsatisfied, and God's redemptive work will continue on without us and without the joy and fulfillment of participating.