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.
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:
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!