April 29, 2020
What are you passionate about? What was Jesus passionate about? David & Karen Mains discuss Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God.
Pray that the Lord will give you a passion for the kingdom of God that can’t be satisfied by anything else. That’s that pearl of great price.
David: Here’s a question most of us need to think about before answering. That’s not because it’s all that hard, but it does take some thought. What things are you passionate about?
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife noted author Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains.
David: Okay, Karen, I’m going to let you start with that easy question.
Karen: Thanks a lot. It’s a really easy question.
David: What things are you passionate about? Go ahead. I know you have passion.
Karen: Yeah, that’s probably why it’s a little difficult for me. Which passion do I choose? I do have quite a few but let me name three or four of them.
David: Okay, three or four is fine. If we get a problem 20, that’s not good.
Karen: I’m passionate about justice issues.
David: That’s fair. I know you.
Karen: I’m disturbed by the treatment of the poor and the misuse of the power of money. I think having money can be a wonderful thing if we are generous and leverage it for the sake of the things that are close to the heart of God. So, justice issues, I’m passionate about that.
I’m passionate about the idea that beauty is one of the evidences of God in the world. Beauty, truth, and goodness, these are called the three great transcendence, and that means that every culture has a value around beauty, truth, or goodness.
So, I’m passionate about those things. I think beauty is an overlooked aspect of God. In fact, in Orthodox theology, that would be Eastern Orthodoxy, they say God is beauty the same way they would say God is love.
Karen: So, I’m passionate about…
David: That’s not normal for…
Karen: That’s not normal for Western theology, I don’t believe.
David: That’s right.
Karen: So, I have an aesthetic feel for life, and I’m always trying to make things beautiful. Now that’s a very interesting thing because I can’t buy my way to beauty. We’ve been in ministry all of our lives, and I wouldn’t say we become rich in the process.
David: No, but it’s very fascinating what you’re saying because beauty is very important to you.
Karen: I have this concept of redemptive beauty, and I tease about, you know, I’m into redemption and reclamation. That means I find things no one else wants in resale shops or on the garbage. Someone’s garbage discarded. I love garbage. Everyone puts there, excuse me, puts all of their junk out on the curb for anyone who wants to take it.
David: I have to confess sometimes the things you come home with; I don’t see beauty.
Karen: But then I want to make them beautiful. I want to make the little world we live in a beautiful world. So that’s one of my great passions would be, would be beauty.
David: I would say that you’re passionate about hospitality.
Karen: That’s another area of passion for me, and I don’t know how this started. It was modeled to me by my parents. It was certainly a strong value in my father’s family. They were part of a southern clan and so hospitality. I guess that’s where I picked it all up. My father used to say “Where the heart is open, the home will be.” Consequently, the book I wrote in hospitality was titled “Open Heart, Open Home.”
Yeah, I think in this world where people are so alienated, we don’t know our neighbors. We have such extraordinary data on the incidence of loneliness. People feel lonely. They don’t feel like they are known. I mean, there’s a high percentage. It’s like 23% of Americans may, I’m not sure of that figure. It’s something like 23%. Say they have no one that they can go to, no one who is a confidante, who cares about them. Can you imagine what that must be like? So, I think hospitality is one of the cures for all of those things.
David: Okay, I’m giving you a lot of time now. I’m going to talk about what I’m passionate about.
Karen: And what are you passionate about, David?
David: I feel like that old cartoon with Charlie Brown where Lucy is, he says, “what do you see in these clouds?” And she says, “the battle of Action.” Where she says, “What do you see Charlie Brown?” And he says, “I was going to say a horsey and a ducky, but I think I’ll change my mind.”
So, I would say I do family as a passionate area for me. How my kids are doing? How they are in their walk with the Lord? So, I would say I think about that all the time. I think about my role in the family. I think about those who’ve gone before me.
Karen: These are the offspring who have the good fortune of having a praying father and grandfather. You spend all kinds of time.
David: Well, I’m passionate about prayer.
Karen: Yeah, you’re passionate about prayer.
David: I feel keenly about that especially at this time in my life. When I say the word passionate, I think I was passionate about the Cubs when they got to the World Series finally and actually won it. Now I’m not passionate about them at all. It seems like…
Karen: It’s probably not going to happen for a while.
David: No, not in my lifetime. It doesn’t seem like or my children or my grandchildren’s lifetime. Maybe if it goes as it did. I am passionate about preaching that changes lives. Not about the same old same old but when there is a word not only from the human messenger, but that human messenger brings a word from the Lord. I hear it. I know it. I feel it strongly.
Karen: In fact, we’re just launching in the first stages of launching a website and an outreach where you can begin to train pastors in your preaching methodology which helps pastors communicate truths of scripture in a way that are memorable that people remember after they leave the doors of the church and get into their busy lives and helps them to change their lives. This is a huge passion for you.
David: It sticks. They’re wrestling with this.
Karen: Yes. All week.
David: I think I’m passionate about the presidential election. I think about that. I pray about it. I talk about it. So, all of us have passions of one kind or another. At least I assume almost everyone does. You do need to think about it a little while before you immediately answer the question.
Karen: I think this is a good question for our listeners to not forget after they’re done listening with us to the podcast. But to say to themselves, what are the things I’m passionate about? It’s a good self-survey, a good question that leads to self-survey, self-knowledge.
David: Here’s the question I was leading toward. It’s the different question from what you are thinking of. What was Jesus passionate about?
Karen: Good question. Well, I know the answer because we’ve been talking about this a lot. He was passionate about teaching about the kingdom of God.
David: Yeah, he talked about it all the time.
Karen: It was his major message when you just counted out. He mentioned that more than anything else. And all the other things that he talked about were things that revealed what the kingdom of God was and what its impact was on our living.
David: Yeah, if people know you’re coming, they may say, “Whatever you do, don’t talk about hospitality.”
Karen: Don’t start that. With you it was revival for many, many years.
David: I didn’t even say that. I’m passionate about it. I’m moving of God’s Holy Spirit. I think the disciples said to people, “Whatever you do, don’t bring up the kingdom of God. That’s all he talks about.”
Karen: Well, I’m not sure because the context in which that message was preached was in a context where Rome ruled much of the world.
David: With an iron hand.
Karen: With an iron hand and a cruel boot on the neck of the subject. So, I think when Christ began to teach, the way he did about an alternate kingdom, about a kingdom of heaven, or a kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven is like, I mean this just comes up over and over. I think he had listeners.
David: Yes, I was joking before. It was an incredible new message.
Karen: It was an extraordinary message.
David: There’s a new king on the scene.
Karen: A new king is here. And this is what it looks like. And he told a lot of parables about seeking and finding that had to do with the kingdom of God as well.
David: We have had a series of programs about the kingdom of God. Do you remember we did some rebroadcast of Chuck Colson’s interview some 30 years ago on the Chapel of the Year. Do you remember how he defined the kingdom of God?
Karen: Something like living according to Christ’s rule.
David: It was the rule of God.
Karen: The rule of God.
David: That’s how he spoke of it. We in our children’s books talk about wherever Christ is recognized as king or wherever the king is recognized. We don’t use Christ. We’re telling a story to try to unfold what the real story is about. But it’s where the king is recognized. His rule is obeyed. And then obedient subjects reap the benefit of this rule.
David: So that seems to be that children can grasp that. The kingdom of God is that way. It’s where how God thinks we should live is honored. And how we benefit from that, the great joy that comes. Jesus said he told the parable about the fellow who found a treasure in a field.
Karen: Interesting parable.
David: Do you remember how it goes?
Karen: Well, he buried it back in the field.
Karen: And then he went home, and he sold everything he had.
David: Yeah. He just… Nothing has meaning anymore.
Karen: And then he bought the field. Now what’s so interesting to me about that is he didn’t take the treasure. Maybe it was too big. I don’t know. And steal it from the field. So, there was an honorable morality functioning even in the parables. But he went and he sold everything he had. He had that treasure was so meaningful and so rich that he gave up everything for it.
David: Nothing else had value.
Karen: Nothing else had value.
David: Yeah. Jesus did a follow-up with that. He talked about the pearl of great price. The pearl merchant had been looking all his life. And when he finally found the perfect pearl at that point, nothing else mattered. He sold it all and had what he wanted. That’s how the kingdom was for people.
Karen: This is an interesting… Being a storyteller and spending a lot of my time writing and trying to create stories… You know, you deal as a storyteller with the deepest longings of the human heart. If you’re a good storyteller. And it evokes in people a longing for… Sometimes things they don’t even know they’ve been looking for. And I think that’s what Jesus was doing in those parables. He was telling stories about something people long for. We all want a government that’s fair. We all want a leader we can follow and trust. I mean, we’re going through that right now, aren’t we? With our coming elections, coming up in November. All this endless conversation on the media.
David: We all want the poor to in some way have a fair share in the world.
David: It doesn’t mean everybody has equal riches, but at least no one’s being cheated or downtrodden or whatever.
Karen: Or taken advantage of or kept poor. Kept poor by larceny or whatever it is that’s affecting them.
David: Do you think that in Jesus teaching the kingdom of God is the same as the church? Because a lot of people see the two almost as synonymous. How would you say they differ?
Karen: I think it’s the church is supposed to manifest.
David: Okay, model.
Karen: Model what the kingdom of God is like on earth. So, outsiders can look at it and be attracted by its beauty. But I’m not sure. I probably suspect that we don’t do that very well as church people or as a church community.
David: There are times in history or there are individuals in history. You know, as St. Francis of Assisi, he was a rich young man. He sold it all to the great consternation, probably, of people in his family. Sold it all because he found something better. And we see his life as a model of kingdom living.
Karen: But I think the biggest impact… I think those individuals are extraordinary, and they do stand out in history. I mean, they impacted their worlds. But I think even more impacting would be communities of faith, where the kingdom of God is understood, where people begin to long for it. They want to live the way Christ taught about that kingdom, in a way that is radically different than where they are.
David: Loving God.
Karen: Loving God…
David: …with all your heart, soul, mind, and soul. Loving your neighbor.
Karen: And as you do yourself. So, we come to terms with who we are and feel at home with who God has made us to be.
David: Karen, I think when the original people heard that message in Jesus saying, you’re to go into the whole world and preach this good news of this gospel, you almost look back and you say, he really didn’t choose people who were very…
Karen: The great leaders of their society at that time, right?
David: No, they weren’t the university professors. These were the…
Karen: Ordinary every day.
David: The bumblers from Galilee. They were the bumpkins.
Karen: Stinky fishermen.
David: Yeah, incredible.
David: So, and they were almost all that way in terms of his disciples, and yet they went out and they changed the world.
Karen: They absolutely radically changed the world. I’ve been reading a book by DeSousa on the impact of Christianity on the United States government. The kind of government we have. He does a beautiful job of portraying what the world was like pre-Christ. It was a dreadful, gruesome, awful world. And into it, into it, Jesus Christ, this young man of 30-33, who gathers ordinary people, like you were saying, and invests in their life. And then they become passionate and filled with the Holy Spirit of God. And DeSousa points about how that changed our entire world. Our American idea that we have such difficulty reading is based on the Christian ideal. All men and women are created equal in the eyes of God. I mean, it’s just a head and pop to up in history the way it did here in the States. I mean, in the United States. So, we have to be aware of the impact of this proclamation of the message of Jesus Christ and the fact that we are called to another kind of kingdom life.
David: I have a great example. I won’t be able to share it as well with listeners because they don’t know this young woman. Several years back every Sunday.
Karen: For a year and a half.
David: For a year and a half, yeah. How many how many college students?
Karen: There were 11 Wheaton College kids.
David: Okay, they would come to our house.
Karen: They were our small group. We were all going to the same church together and so they were our small group.
David: And they usually brought the food.
Karen: Yeah, they bring stuff.
David: And we would sit around and talk for a couple hours. I’m thinking of one girl. Beautiful, beautiful young girl. All of them in the group.
Karen: They were all wonderful kids. All of them were wonderful.
David: She was physically incredibly attractive. She had been raised by missionary parents and as soon as college was over, her great desire was go to the field.
Karen: She hightailed herself across the world.
David: She had a, I would call it a broken romance, her senior year at college.
Karen: Yeah, and we lived through that with her. Yeah.
David: Yeah, the fella was in another school, and he decided that he didn’t want to follow Jesus anymore. That was very hard on her. But on the field after she went, she was in Eastern Europe.
Karen: One of the stans. We can’t remember.
David: No, no, that’s where she’s going.
Karen: Oh, that’s where she’s going.
David: Yeah, she was in Eastern Europe.
Karen: Okay, Eastern Europe.
David: Where she’s headed is to one of the stands. Those Afghanistan, Pakistan, you know,
David: I went to Kazakhstan. There’s only one of the stans I’ve ever been. It means land of. I can’t even remember all of the names, but she is now headed over to one of those Middle Asian countries where she’s going to spend her time talking to people about Jesus. I mean, and that’s her life and she loves it. And she’s a phenomenal young woman and she, the Lord has brought into her life a handsome young fella and…
Karen: They become married and he’s he had the same sort of heart that she did.
David: And if you ask her the question, “What is it you’re passionate about”? She’s passionate about the kingdom of God. So, the story goes on and on and on and on. It’s very thrilling. It’s thrilling to see how God calls different people. It doesn’t mean you have to be a missionary. I would say, Karen, that we need to be passionate about the kingdom. How would you grade yourself in terms of your passion regarding the kingdom of God?
Karen: On my better days, I’m a good B.
David: A good grade B.
Karen: Grade B. And when I’m busy in my mind is full of all other things, B minus C plus probably. I would give me something.
David: Well, that’s a high grade, but it’s not a real high grade. So, why didn’t you make it an A or why didn’t you make it a C?
Karen: It’s a major propelling ideal in my life. It’s a theological concept that has utterly captured me. But like everyone else, life intrudes. I mean, this week I’ve been teaching a memoir writing class. I have hardly thought about the kingdom of God, you know, had 14 students, we do it by telephone. I’ve been going through their papers doing the interviews with them. So, that’s just typical, you know, you get so taken up with all your duties and responsibilities and activities that the kingdom of God is sort of pushed to the side. But I do have a deep desire. I mean, it’s a basic motivator in my life. So, on those days when it’s active, I’m a good B+.
David: Well, that’s not bad. When you stand before the Lord, I want to know before He gives me a grade whether He’s grading on the curve or not. I think I might do well if He’s grading on the curve if He’s grading by an absolute standard. I probably… It’s hard to…
Karen: A way to go. It’s hard…
David: It’s easier to answer what I’m passionate about than this to answer. How am I in terms of God’s thoughts regarding my… you know I’m not one of the early disciples. I think in terms of my life, I like to grade it on the life more than I do on a given day.
Karen: Yeah. Oh, that’s probably a good way to approach it.
David: The truth is, like Paul says, who am I to grade how I’m doing? You know, I have to stand before the Lord and He’s the one who’s going to judge me one way or the other.
David: So, I would avoid the question. You weren’t fast enough to say I would avoid the question. So, we’ll leave it where it is. Here’s a sentence. We try to put what we’re saying into a sentence.
Pray that the Lord will give you a passion for the kingdom of God that can’t be satisfied by anything else. That’s that pearl of great price.
Karen: This is a technique I’ve used a lot in my life. I want to want Him. You know, I want to want God. I want to be that. I want our desire to have that be a major propelling motivator in my life. But I’m human. And so, I very frequently will pray a prayer like, “God, give me a passion for yourself that no other human thing can compete with or overcome or match. And I want to, give me a love for you.” These sorts of things that I want as far as my desire in my relationship with God. So, I think for the concept of the kingdom of God, because it was such an important message for Jesus Christ to mention over and over again, that one of the ways we can raise our grade from C, D, C, B up toward the As on Sundays would be to say, “God, give me a passion for the kingdom of God that nothing else can match.”
David: One of the interesting things to me, Karen, is when the disciples saw Jesus, saw His passion, saw that single direction. He only had a little over three years to pull off what He was trying to do before they crucified Him. They said to the disciples, teach us to be like you are. And one of those specifics was, teach us to pray. And He gave this model prayer that we say pretty much, oh, numbers of times through the week. I would say we say it probably four or five times at the very least. And daily, when things are going the way, we really want them to. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come”, then it’s kind of defined, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
So, the Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer that helps us to go back to those essentials. the advancement of the Kingdom of God worldwide.
Karen: And when we pray that because we see ourselves as Kingdom people now, we reiterate that, we do that five, or six times together each week, one of the ways you know that the Kingdom is important is how does that phrase impact you? And I’m often emotionally moved, I mean I get teary eyed, you know, where the tears press behind your eyes and it has deep meaning even when we pray that prayer together. So that may be something that people would like to include as an exercise in their lives, is to pray that model prayer that Jesus gave his disciples and has passed down through their centuries to all of us, of “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come.” But the first thing on the list, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
David: That’s actually a definition of the Kingdom. Thy will be done on earth even as it is in heaven. That part of the Kingdom is not only here and now but it’s for all eternity. So, the Kingdom is past, present, future.
Karen: And it is beyond time and it’s also in time. I mean it’s one of those extraordinary concepts, we can’t really get our mind around. We keep pressing toward it though. So, I’m praying that those people who are listening to us will pray this prayer. “God give me a passion for your Kingdom.” Now, you’ve written a book called “But the Kingdom Comes.” The world goes not well but the Kingdom comes. The title is “The Kingdom Comes.”
David: That’s from the Kingdom Tales. Yeah, from Watchtower to Watchtower. The cry goes out, the world goes not well.
Karen: But the Kingdom comes.
David: But the Kingdom comes.
Karen: That’s from the Tales of Resistance. So, we’d like to make this book available to anyone who would like to have a copy of it. It’s probably about $14.
David: You know what, you’re overpriced.
Karen: I’m overpriced.
David: It’s $9.95.
Karen: Oh, thank you. Okay, David just gave you a sale item. The Kingdom Comes. So, if you want to just email me Karen@HungrySouls.org. Karen@HungrySouls.org. We’ll send you a copy and put a receipt on, I mean a little bill ladle on the inside and then you can send that money to us later. But it’s a wonderful book and I think it will synthesize all the things that we’ve been talking about and then give you a after-podcast tool that will help you keep thinking about this topic.
David: We’re going to leave Kingdom things alone for a little while. We’re coming into the season of Easter. A lot of topics we want to move onto, but we’ll come back to this one. I promise that we will.
Again, what we’re saying as we’ve had this opportunity to visit together is pray that the Lord will give you a passion for the Kingdom of God that can’t be satisfied by anything else. That you’ve found that pearl of great price or that you’ve found that treasure in the field and now you’re in that process of saying “I’m willing to pay the big price at everything I got if that’s what it costs because it’s worth it all.” Thank you, friend. We enjoy these visits. We call them.
Karen: We call them before we go for obvious reasons. David is 83 and I’m 77.
David: So, we can’t talk forever but we’re talking about what is very important to us and we appreciate you listening.
Outgo: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go Podcast. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please remember to rate, review, and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyrighted 2020 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.
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