Reveal the Encounter Issue 9

I was watching one of my favorite movies from the 90’s the other evening, First Knight.  It’s one of those King Arthur and Camelot movies that pop up from time to time.  What I really like about this movie is how it focuses on the heart of the knights and the heart of Camelot.  It stars Sean Connery as Arthur and Richard Gere as Lancelot.  Not only does it have a great cast but it shows this beautiful Utopian society of Camelot that I believe many of us aspire too in some form or another.  But as I got to thinking, isn’t that what the stories of King Arthur have always done?  I loved reading about the stories of the Knights of the Round Table and Camelot when I was growing up.  Were there problems in the stories of Camelot?  Absolutely, no one is perfect and its very evident in these stories, but failures didn’t stop Arthur and Camelot from aspiring to something greater.  It reminds me of King David.  He definitely had his mess ups and when he messed up, he really messed up, but the aspirations to live a life as God-like were always there, even when he messed things up.

There was a line in this movie that says: “There are laws that enslave men, and laws that set them free.”  I thought how true this is!  We don’t hear a lot of this in the world today, especially from mainstream media.  Especially when you add the line that follows almost exactly after.  “Either what we hold to be right, and good and true IS right and good and true for all mankind under God, or we’re just another robber tribe.”  Wow!  Shouldn’t this be the belief of the church?  I wonder how often we forget that if we don’t believe what is in our lives to be right, good and true for everyone then it’s not worth believing.  This is of course is where conflicts come in because what if the things I hold to be right, good and true are different than yours?  I think the first check has to be if they are of God or not and the first quote I listed is a good indicator.  We have to make sure that what we believe is freeing people, not enslaving them.  We look back at the history of the church and see where people did horrible things because they felt that they were right but if you them to the test of the other half, they didn’t free people, they enslaved them.  A lot of the politics we deal with involve one group working to promote one over another.  I even feel like that in Christianity today, we have a tendency to go one extreme or the other.  We are either open and accepting to everyone’s belief’s and not staying true to the truth of the Gospel or we are so extreme in our beliefs that we have created laws that really aren’t freeing, they are enslaving people.

I look back at my life and see so many laws in the church that ended up enslaving us, even as well intentioned as they may have been.  Now, I see a Church that is opening itself up to all different types of things that is compromising the Gospel because we can’t tell someone else that what they believe is wrong.  I’m sorry but when I see the possibly of God’s Kingdom, the ultimate Utopian society, the ultimate and perfect Camelot, I can’t help but tell people that I know how to get there because I am going to get to live in Camelot.  This makes me wonder if so many in the Church are compromising their beliefs because they haven’t really experienced the taste of God’s Kingdom that Christ ushered in?  Maybe they have only experience the kingdoms that man has built.  What would happen to the Church today if people experienced God’s Kingdom just like Arthur experienced Camelot?  It’s not Heaven and it won’t ever be perfect until Christ comes back, but it’s the closest thing we have and it’s so much better than the alternative.  Would you rather live in a place where people are inspired to live a life above themselves or what we seem to have right now or worse?  At times, I feel as though I am standing in God’s territory, experiencing all of His glory and wonder while screaming at others to put things down and join in.  But then I go back to the previous thought that maybe the reason we aren’t living for the Kingdom is because we haven’t fully experienced what Christ ushered in for us to experience?  Why would individuals seek Camelot if they didn’t know what it was like or why would people invite others to live in Camelot if they hadn’t experienced it themselves?

There’s another line in this movie that I absolutely love as well and I believe it ties into what we are talking about.  “God uses people like you, Lancelot.  Because your heart is open.  You hold nothing back.  You give all of yourself.”  Are we holding anything back?  Are we giving all of ourselves to God?  Is God able to use you?  Maybe, just maybe, this could be our problem as a Church.  I know that when I’m struggling with giving God everything, I’m not as effective, but boy when I give Him my all and let nothing stand before God, incredible things happen!  Are we staring at the Kingdom in the distance while dreaming of what it’ll be like one day to be there but all the while, God is calling us to come have a taste right now?  All we have to do is give ourselves completely to God, to believe in Him and ultimately the Kingdom.  I know it’s hard to find movies with themes in them like this but why aren’t we finding more churches with this theme running through them?  Why aren’t more local churches proclaiming the laws that truly free us, accepting what they believe to be so right, good and true that they have to share with everyone or giving God their all so that He can use them?  Have we lost our belief?  Have we lost our faith in what is good, true and right and that we are supposed to be all about setting people free, not enslaving or binding them up?  Have even ever had it?

I believe with all my heart that the Church needs to stay focused on Christ.  Christ gives us our purpose, definitions of right, good and true as well as a taste of the His Kingdom.  Have we gotten too focused on the mission or being “the church” that we have taken our eyes off of the source of it all?   Will things ever be perfect without Christ?  No, will we mess up from time to time?  Yes, but I would rather live and strive for the greater than just accept things as they are because it’s too difficult to change or allow fear to keep me from telling others what we believe is good, true and right.  We can live in a world where we respect people for their different beliefs but still keep trying to convince them that we know the true way.  Isn’t loving others while not agreeing with them on everything part of living in that kingdom of harmony?  If the people who are supposed to represent such a place can’t even do it, why do we expect others to do it?  If we want the world to believe in Camelot, don’t we need to be living it out in our own lives first?  It breaks my heart to see so many believers who confess to experiencing a love like no other, to experiencing grace and then not to live it out in their relationships and life.  I have been hurt by so many “Christians” in my life and ministry.  I have had individuals who confessed to love me, to be my spiritual family, and then attack me or stab me in the back.  Unfortunately, I am not alone and maybe you’re reading this and have experienced the same.  Maybe you are struggling to believe in the Kingdom of God because you have never really got to experience it.  All I can tell you is that just because there were bumps or problems, doesn’t mean that what we believe is good, true and right because I also have experiences that were the total opposite that renewed my faith in the Kingdom, it’s Lord and it’s people.  But, as I wrap this post up, I want to ask some questions.

Are you afraid of what will happen if you mess up?

Have you been hurt by others?

Have you been hurt by those who say they are trying to help?

Are you afraid of what others will say if you proclaim the Truth?

Are you not even sure what is right, good and true?

Are you unsure if you have given yourself completely to God?

Are you afraid of enslaving people and not setting them free?

Are you afraid of being set free?

No matter what the answers may be for these questions, God can help you, God can help the Church?  Let’s just seek Him with all of our hearts and see what happens!!

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