(Photo courtesy of www.bustle.com)
How Crush the Turtle Embodies Kingdom Living
By Ben Courson
What is the kingdom of God? Though debate has raged in the blogosphere during the past 15 years over what EXACTLY the kingdom of God is, Jesus and Paul respectively gave it quite a clear definition. Jesus, employing and deploying a rhetorician’s device called Hebrew parallelism, defined the kingdom as a place where God’s will is done on earth as perfectly as it is in heaven. And Paul said the kingdom is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Which leads us to Nemo. Didn’t see THAT coming, did you?
You remember Crush, from Finding Nemo? The turtle who surfed with his little grom? Crush would throw shakas with his flippers and hoot, “RIGHTEOUSSSSSSSSSSSS!” Like a surfer catching waves, he would ride the currents and yell, “Righteous!” That’s what heaven is. As Paul and Crush would say, the kingdom of God is RIGHTEOUSSSSSness!!!!!
In the pen of John (composing in a genre we don’t even have anymore called “apocalyptic literature”), twenty-four elders, beasts, and heavenly hosts of Revelation all shout, “RIGHTEOUSSSS and true are your judgements!” They are throwing proverbial shakas at the throne and declaring all of God’s judgement calls are right on, i.e. righteous! To live like heaven on earth is to believe by faith that everything God does is righteous before we can experience it by sight. If we are going to destroy everything that is not heaven on earth, create pockets of theocracy, and build outposts for the kingdom of God, then this means we trust God’s love in our trials and say, “RIGHTEOUSSSS! All your judgment calls are righteous and true!
Hindsight is twenty twenty, and I can only connect the dots looking backwards! But in the meantime, BEFORE my faith is turned to sight, I’m going to trust this is true. In the words of Amos, I’m going to let your ‘justice roll down like a river,’ stay in the current, send a shaka or two and say, ‘Righteous!’” That is how Paul defined the Kingdom of God! Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
It is the declaration that everything God does is right/just, but unlike Miriam, I’m gonna shake my tambourine BEFORE the Red Sea parts! Enter the inner skeptic and devil’s advocate. “His decisions are righteous, but what about MY decisions? God makes moves, and all the right ones, but do I?” Out of the 35,000 choices we make every day, how DO we know we are making the right ones? Note, Paul ALSO said the kingdom of God is peace. And Jesus said the kingdom is inside you. Peace rules IN you. In fact, Paul wrote in another place, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”
The word for “rule” in Greek is “umpire.” How do you know which college to go to, which person to date, which career path take? By peace. It’ll act as an umpire. If you have peace, you’ll know it’s a safe choice (even if outwardly it’s the more dangerous option). If you don’t have peace, God is calling you “out” on the carpet. Don’t go there. When the path bifurcates, how do you know whether to go to the right or to the left? Isaiah said, you’ll hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it, whether to go to the right or to the left.” Peace will guide you. Psalm 37 tells us to seek peace and pursue it. You’ll know what you’re supposed to do by the peace in your heart. It’ll either call you safe or out. Go where the peace is…and when destiny meets you, it’ll recognize you.
In Philippians, Paul writes that the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds, and the word “guard” is used of a security sentinel and prison warden who stands at the gates of a cell to ensure a prisoner does not escape or do a jailbreak. God will act like a security guard to make sure peace never escapes your heart. Knowing God’s judgment calls are “RIGHTEOUSSSSS!” (insert Shaka), and knowing WE will make the right judgment calls thanks to peace umpiring our hearts leads to “joy in the Holy Ghost,” Paul’s final definition for the kingdom of God. Sadly, a lot of Christians walk around like they’ve been baptized in prune or lemon juice. Their joy is Dunzo-Washington-rest-in-pasta. The older they get, it often seems like the less joy they have. Sigh!
I’ve read that the average adult laughs 13-17 times per day, but the average kid laughs 200-400 times per day. Maybe Jesus was onto something when He said if you want to enter the kingdom you must become as a little child. Kids have joy. We need more joy! Zephaniah says God rejoices over us with JOY because he loves us so much. You will have joy in proportion as you believe that God doesn’t endure you but he enjoys you. After all, the meaning of life is to enjoy the joy of being enjoyed by God! But do you believe that? Do you believe God loves you so much he doesn’t tolerate you, but rather, he thrills over you? To tie the bow, that is germane and all important to living the kingdom life. That is EVERYTHING: believing that God loves you tons!
Science informs us that what you believe about God plays a humongous part in your identity formation: it encompasses a significant amount of neurological real estate. It’s something in which you invest deeply. According to neurotheology, If you pray to a God who is angry, you’ll have high activity in your amygdala (the place in your brain where anger and stress are located). But when you pray to a God who is loving, you’ll have high activity in your prefrontal cortex (which is responsible for focus and concentration) and in your anterior cingulate cortex (from which springs empathy and compassion). In other words, if you talk to a God you think is mad AT you rather than mad ABOUT you, a God who needs to be placated and assuaged and appeased, you’ll have high blood pressure and anxiety. If you pray to a God who is love, however, you’ll be more focused and have more intensive fellow feeling for others.
This is why what you believe about God is supremely important. And let me tell you––God loves you so much he will never make a judgment call that isn’t completely righteous. He thinks thoughts of peace toward you so that you can be kept in perfect peace when you think about Him, and He wants to give you joy in the Holy Ghost. Kick back by the throne, throw some shakas at the King, and echo Crush and the 24 elders as you shout (say it with me now), “Righteoussssss!”