Panta ta ethne or #mybestlife?
Don Allsman and Pastor Rickie Bradshaw
July 14, 2022
A variety of messages are flowing from pulpits that, while cloaked in Biblical language, do not represent a Kingdom perspective. If we are not careful, we can fall into a quagmire that is inconsistent with the hopes, dreams, and strategies of Jesus.
Jesus came to declare the good news of His Kingdom, inviting people to live under His life-giving rule. By His incarnation, teaching, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension, He defeated the devil, securing His Kingdom authority. Now we have authority to continue His progressive victory, culminating in making disciples of all ethnic groups (panta ta ethne). When we live under this Kingdom rule, we experience confidence, faith, and rest in the midst of trials.
But counterfeit pronouncements have masqueraded as truth, using verses from the Bible to distract the saints from Kingdom living. One version could be called “#mybestlife,” a pursuit of personal happiness that results in anxiety and broken relationships. We can discern truth from deception by reviewing our aspirations, strategies, frustrations, and sources.
As citizens of His Kingdom our aspirations should align with Jesus. His passion to gather a family from every tribe, people, tongue and nation (Rev. 7:9) is so strong that the course of history will continue until His objective is fulfilled (Mt. 24:14). The end does not come with geopolitical events, but when the work of His Great Commission is completed: disciples of panta ta ethne (Mt. 28:19). By contrast, the aspirations of #mybestlife are health, money, prestige, and fun. When these become a consuming passion, they sap our strength and dominate our thinking.
The strategies of #mybestlife are connected to gaining power through education, employment, fame, or social action. But Jesus’ Kingdom strategies are different, preferring to invest in the poor, prisoners, and humble (Mt. 25:34ff, Lk. 4:18-19; Js. 2:5), people who cannot pay us back. One version of #mybestlife is getting America back to its faith-filled roots so we can be happy. The same can be said about social justice initiatives seeking an ideal society. While God has used America, the Bible’s emphasis is on Jesus’ global Kingdom. Neither conservativism nor progressivism can consummate His Kingdom.
Another way to discern truth is by our frustrations, the challenges that oppose our aspirations. The frustrations to #mybestlife can come from anywhere: work, family, economy, or politics, causing us to grind our teeth when we do not get what we want in life. But when panta ta ethne is our aspiration, we are grieved by divisions that tarnish Jesus’ reputation around the world, and wish Christian giving represented more than 0.1%[i] investment in reaching the remaining ethnic groups. We are frustrated when more energy goes into protecting our way of life or ministry brand than making Jesus known to tribes who have never heard His name.
Finally, we need to consider the source. The Kingdom message comes from the story of Jesus (John 5:39), solidified in the historic creeds, and the testimony of the saints through the ages. It is a truth that is outside of me and my little world. However, the source of #mybestlife comes from personal experience, an individual truth from within. All relationships start with “my truth” and extend to family, friends, country, and world, while Jesus teaches us to look at all relationships from His perspective, His aspirations, His strategies.
We escape #mybestlife by seeking a Kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:28), applying energy to His panta ta ethne aspirations, and using His strategies. As you do, you will experience the refreshment of His yoke, which is easy and light (Mt. 11:28-29).
This article is submitted by Don Allsman of Completion Global. Completion Global is a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.
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