A Live Presentation and a Great T-shirt

The theme for the Coffee With Paul Live Event (held last Thursday through Sunday in Indiana) was Reading the Bible Like Jesus:  Scribes Trained for the Kingdom of Heaven.  For me, that is provocative and inspirational enough, but the focus was further narrowed to the gospel of Matthew, and all the presentations keyed in on one or more aspects or sections of that gospel, making the entire conference even better conceived.LiveEvent11

I presented at the event, and my topic was “A Radically Altered Worldview:  Kingdom Teachings of the Gospel of Matthew, Richard Hughes, and Lee Camp.”  I dealt in some measure with the simultaneous existence and nature of God’s Kingdom and human governmental kingdoms, and I focused particular attention on (1) the so-called apocalyptic worldview, and on (2) peacemaking and nonviolence and (3) justice.  I referred to several other author-thinkers but gave the most credit to the work of Richard Hughes and Lee Camp.  In preparation, I excerpted a few short passages from the book Subjects of the Kingdom, drawing also from Lee Camp’s Mere Discipleship:  Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World (2003) and Richard Hughes’s Christian America and the Kingdom of God (2009), among other works.  I concentrated on specific insights related specifically to Matthew’s gospel.

As with most things I say or do, my presentation was not all I’d hoped it would be.  I worked too hard, but not well enough, and I end up somewhat disappointed with my own performance.  I am pleased with the overall emphases and some other aspects, but the speech was too long, so I was rushed, and certain details needed more refinement.  At least a couple of people were mildly upset with implications, which is to be expected, and a couple of conversations ensued, but I made no enemies.  All the presentations from this conference will eventually be published in a book, so I am presently editing and revising the written version.  If any reader is interested in a pre-publication copy of my presentation, please comment here or write me privately.  If any Christian group would like to consider my presenting this material in person, time permitting, I would love to do that, and I will ask for no remuneration other than expenses.

After the above-referenced conference had been history for about four hours, I experienced a wonderful serendipity in a McDonald’s restaurant near my motel.  (Recall that one of my main focuses was peacemaking and nonviolence, as taught and exemplified by Jesus.)  I was behind a mom and daughter in line, and the daughter had just returned from a Christian camp.  I asked for and received permission to capture the wonderful message on the girl’s T-shirt:

Jesus Peace T-shirt

I am spiritually thrilled that, for the young people at that Disciples of Christ camp,  discipleship and the Messiah’s way had been strongly connected.  Not that peacemaking encapsulates everything about discipleship by any means, but it is one hallmark of Kingdom behavior.  Would that we all would follow the Jesus revealed in scriptures!

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8 thoughts on “A Live Presentation and a Great T-shirt

  1. My trying to get to “know” God has truly been eye-opening when it comes to understanding peace. if Christ had not come and shown me what He did about it, then I would probably still think of peace as way down on the list to God. But, He made it so clear to me that God was not wanting His people involved in violence. We are no longer the “long arm of God’s justice!” But, what was more shocking was His motivation. Jesus made it clear that God loved the enemies too. He loved the people outside the camp. Those folks over there. He hung out with the marginalized. He even chose zealots and tax collectors to be His right hand guys. He expected them to work together? And then there is the cross! What happened there? I am still trying to figure it out. If Paul is right, then debts were cleared. If Jesus got what He wanted then even the ones nailing Him to the tree were forgiven. Why? Ignorance? (But, God did not answer His earlier prayer in the garden as He wanted.) Just Him going to the cross without a fight is a giant lesson. The early persecuted church greatly respected it and many through faith ended up as Jesus or worse. What He said to Peter about the sword. The way Paul was completely transformed from the violent man he was to the new man in Christ. The way almost all His closest people died. Maybe there are hints at this God in the earlier writings but without Him incarnate, I would never know Him this way. So, the gal’s shirt is really cool. People looking to understand Him more will see this God of peace! We must get ready to put it into practice more and more.

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    • Bill, my apologies for not having responded to this here. (Of course I had the exceptional pleasure of seeing your face and mentioning this in the meantime!)

      I hear your love of the Hebrews letter here (outside the camp), and I think that’s a good observation. And I too find that there’s a marked distinction between Torah/Tanakh and New Covenant in this regard. Perhaps things would have been more peaceful all along had the people not wanted a human king (in order to be like the other nations), but regardless, by the time of our Messiah, peace became much more important. To follow Jesus is to make many hard choices, and nothing is too easy. One of those non-easy choices is the way of peace and peacemaking.

      How to put Jesus’ peace into practice more — that is the rub.

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    • Hey, Bob. I was sorry that you, Patrick, Barry, both Mikes, Mickey, and others couldn’t be there, too. This was my first one, and I hope I can go to the next. I’m assuming that a couple aspects of my talk may take you aback some, so be forewarned. 🙂 I’ll e-mail you privately and send you a copy of the for-print version.

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