The Kingdom Journey Series shares how Christians with roots in the Restoration Movement came to embrace Kingdom Christianity.
Name: David S. | Age: 29 | Location: Tampa | Rest. Mov. Roots: International Church of Christ
Read part one of this interview here.
5.) What have been some of the difficulties along the way?
Following Jesus as Savior and King, a citizen of His Kingdom, something totally at odds with the Kingdom of Darkness, presents many challenges personally and relationally.
Personally, my wife and I were ignoring or downplaying many commandments in the NT, necessitating on-going repentance.
Jesus’ teaching that the poor are blessed and the warnings given to the rich (together with passages like Matthew 25:31-46) should put fear in any Westerner.
We also are re-working our finances, wardrobe, and ambitions in light of the Apostles’ teaching on modesty and simplicity of lifestyle. This is challenging for us.
We live very comfortable lives and had to start getting uncomfortable (we are still working on this).
On the relationship side, initially I was failing at being poor in spirit and meek when sharing these things with my wife. After humbling myself, repenting of my abrasiveness, and giving my wife the time to study the Kingdom of God on her own, she and I became of one mind.
This journey would have been much more difficult on my own, but with my wife by my side, I feel more confident in following Jesus to conquer the Promised Land.
Relationally, the next set of challenges came when sharing our unyielding convictions to our closest friends (brothers and sisters in Christ).
Many of our friends agreed and were persuaded on different aspects of the Kingdom message, some more than others, differing from subject to subject. Many great conversations were started and are still ongoing.
We appreciate the love-filled relationships we have within our local ICOC church.
I also began sharing my convictions and sense of direction with the leaders of the church, who expressed many points of agreement, mutual respect, and admiration.
Still, there were simple teachings of Jesus we were not allowed to teach others. Though we were not teachers, we did study the Bible with seekers and new converts. The attitude from the leaders was “you can hold to this conviction, but keep it to yourself”.
This was a problem for us because Jesus was clear in Matthew 28:20, “…and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you…”. I saw our allegiance was being called either to a church or to The King. After much prayer, fasting, pleading to study these things out with the leadership, and hard conversations, my wife and I responded with one voice, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God, you judge. For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19:-20).
6.) How does Kingdom-centered Christianity play out practically in a marriage?
One thing I have learned is that you can’t have Matthew 5:38-48 without Matthew 5:2-10.
In other words, King Jesus as the ruler and His way (perfection a la Matthew 5:48) is the standard of our home. However, our weaknesses and failure to flawlessly execute require much poverty of spirit, weeping, meekness, mercy, and patience for one another (while never excusing or tolerating sin).
Furthermore, calling one another higher is always good when done with a pure heart (no selfish ambitions) and sometimes you have to suffer to be a peacemaker (much easier said than done).
Lastly, we try to keep in mind that our marriage is a testimony of Jesus’ love and unity with His Church (which makes my heart swoon and body tremble simultaneously).
7.) What can conservative Anabaptists and other Kingdom Christians learn from the Restoration Movement and vice versa?
As I only have experience with the ICOC, let me reframe the question as what Anabaptist/Kingdom Christianity can learn from ICOC branch of the Restoration Movement and vice versa.
(Also, I am about to paint with a broad brush, but that is the nature of the question.)
If Anabaptist/Kingdom Christians could learn only one thing from the ICOC, it would be the ICOC’s effort to imitate Jesus in reaching out to the lost.
Jesus touched the ceremonially unclean (lepers, for example) and made them clean while maintaining His own cleanliness, and he called sinners (tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.) out of sin while not partaking in sin.
What Anabaptist and Kingdom Christians have is the “pearl of great price.” This hurting world is suffering under the rule of Satan. Of the many things I learned from the ICOC, one is sometimes we proclaim the Good News of God’s Kingdom by our life more than by our talk or words on signs.
This is risky because it requires engaging the lost and unclean more closely than holding signs from a distance.
Inversely, the ICOC can learn a lot from Kingdom Christianity.
The ICOC, in effort to be “all things to all men” , has over-extended themselves in reaching out to the lost. This abuse of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 has lead to worldliness and sin being tolerated or even celebrated. This is an existential crisis for the ICOC. The focus Kingdom Christians have for living a holy life is basic to the Faith (Matt. 5:48), and their desire to obey Jesus shows their love for the King (John 14:15).
I would love for the strengths of the two groups to be used to cut off the weakness resulting in a Christ-like balance.
8.) What church do you attend currently?
We decide to leave the ICOC church we were in and work towards a house church in our neighborhood. We now share the Good News of the Kingdom of God and Jesus the King with our neighbors and friends.
We have also been blessed with Kingdom-focused brothers and sisters around the world and have been able to meet many who have gone through similar experiences. These relationships have been crucial for encouragement, confessing sin, admonishment, prayer, accountability, exchanging of teaching resources, and church networking.
We hope to help create a network of house churches which work together to spread the Good News to our local communities and work across cities to build unity.
9.) What encouragement would you give to a reader in a Restoration Movement church who is going through a “Kingdom awakening” of their own?
My encouragement would be to pray and fast often.
Walking in The Way is not easy. I started praying the Lord’s prayer regularly and it has been a blessing. Coming from a Roman Catholic background, I have seen it abused by my extended family, but I also learned the power of this prayer, once I was humble enough to obey Jesus.
This might seem weak, ritualistic, or lacking spirituality, but truly praying this prayer daily and owning what you are saying, discussing each part of the prayer with God, has helped me get through tough times. It has helped me maintain focus on God’s name being glorified, His Kingdom, and His will being done here on earth as it is in heaven. And it has helped me think larger than myself and my emotions by speaking in the plural (our Father, our daily bread, our trespasses).
It was difficult at first, and I wrestled with God through many parts of this prayer, contemplating what Jesus wanted me to be. I had to ask our Father (and myself) if that was truly my desire, and if not, why not.
10.) Finally, what is on your bookshelf or what are you reading currently?
The Kingdom That Turned the World Upside Down by David Bercot
A Change of Allegiance by Dean Taylor
King Jesus Claims His Church by Finny Kuruvilla
Early Christian Commentary of the Sermon on the Mount by Elliott Nesch
Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up by David Bercot
Will the Theologians Please Sit Down by David Bercot
In God We Don’t Trust by David Bercot
What’s The Truth About Heaven And Hell? by Douglas Jacoby
A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot
The Kingdom of God series (Vol 1-2) by Tom Jones & Steve Brown (I take issue with the conclusion of Volume 2 on Jesus’ teaching about divorce and remarriage, but aside from that, it is is great.)
Mighty Man of God by Sam Lain