The Kingdom that Jesus talked about is a holistic God-centered reality that utterly remakes our lives. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the apostle Paul refers to this miraculous transformation as a “new creation” (NIV). Christianity is not simply a religion in fierce competition with other religions, worldviews or any other sort of “ism” (e.g., Christianity vs. Humanism or Christianity vs. Islam, etc.). According to the New Testament, Jesus did not pioneer a new religion at all, and there is in fact no record that He ever even spoke of such a thing. On the contrary—through His life, death and resurrection—the God-man actually pioneered a new way of being human altogether: a renewed humanity that celebrates the coming Kingdom of God by sharing the Gospel, serving the poor, setting slaves free, caring for our planet and loving one another.
Ok, first, a look at II Corinthians 5:17, in some context.
5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle
were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made
with hands, eternal in the heavens.
5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon
with our house which is from heaven:
5:3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
5:4 For we that are in [this] tabernacle do groan, being
burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon,
that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
5:5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing [is] God,
who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
5:6 Therefore [we are] always confident, knowing that, whilst we
are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
5:8 We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent
from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may
be accepted of him.
5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ;
that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body,
according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.
5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;
but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made
manifest in your consciences.
5:12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you
occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to
[answer] them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.
5:13 For whether we be beside ourselves, [it is] to God: or
whether we be sober, [it is] for your cause.
5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus
judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
5:15 And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not
henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for
them, and rose again.
5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea,
though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth
know we [him] no more.
5:17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new
creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are
5:18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to
himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of
5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto
himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath
committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did
beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ's stead, be ye
reconciled to God.
5:21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin;
that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
So, does this seem like what Sheppard is saying? Granted, Sheppard seems to have mastered the postmodern skill of high-blown rhetoric that doesn't really say much, but we may be able to get at bit from it. I notice, for example, that the word 'kingdom' is not in that passage. It doesn't automatically make Sheppard's claims wrong, but I think it does raise the eyebrows.
Is it holistic? That's one word I'm getting rather weary of, another rather empty word that pomos seem to like to use, and fill it as they wish. Now, the passage does mention reconciliation, and a good bit, too--God is reconciling the world to Himself. We are telling people to be reconciled to God. It is because Christ died for all that we may be reconciled to God.
Did Jesus show us a new way to be human?
This is in March, which in the US means we have March Madness, the big NCAA baskeball tournament. For a few months, I've heard of this player with the first name of Jimmer, and that name has caused me to think that some witty talker on a sport's channel would begin talking about him with the phrase "He's more Jim than Jim, he's Jimmer".
Which is, perhaps, one of many reasons I should not be allowed on such a program.
Anyway, the idea of someone teaching humans how to be human seems rather asinine. It seems rather like someone who thought up a faux-clever phrase, didn't really think any deeper than that, and went with it. I think it would be more accurate to say that since we are human, we cannot act in any way other than human. Yes, I know that we may say that some things people have done may be "inhuman", usually in regards to bad things, but the truth is that, if a human does it, it is how a human acts.
No, Jesus did not come to pioneer a new way for us to be human. That's just ridiculous. Rather, look at the passage from which Sheppard took the one verse, it mentions in v.14-15 that Christ died for us, because we were dead.
And, finally, we come to the iteration of social progressive talking points at the end of the paragraph. Sure, sharing the Gospel is good, if by the Gospel he means that Christ died for our sins.
Serving the poor, for example--where is that in the Bible? No, really, while we may find passages that saying we should care for those who can't help themselves, which is all find and good, what is this "serving the poor" rhetoric, and what does he mean by it?
What is meant by "setting slaves free", especially considering that Christ came to a people held under Roman rule, essentially slaves to Rome, yet he did not lead any sort of rebellion at all? And pardon me if I think that by "caring for the planet" Sheppard comes off as being one who wants us to cave to the environmental whackos and global warming nuts without any argument.
Considering the comprehensive and far-reaching embrace of this Kingdom, what better place for it to be explored than on a campus, where students are involved in multiple disciplines of study that influence every area of life? Communications and the arts, business and science and technology, education and health care and international development, linguistics and diplomacy and intercultural studies, philosophy and history and the humanities: the campus, like few places in the world, is truly a microcosm of the various and vital activities that help to determine the grand direction of humanity. If God is not welcomed on campus, how will God be welcomed in the world?
How will God be welcomed in the world? HE ISN'T!!!!!
Why do people think that Jesus would be more accepted now than He was when He walked the earth? Jesus wasn't welcomed, Herod tried to kill Him when He was child, He was doubted and mocked, He was tested and tempted, He was rejected, He was cast out, He was crucified. And when He returns, it will be to open rebellion against Him and the world lined up against His people Israel.
If you can create a Jesus that the world, or the campus, will welcome, you may be sure that that Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible.