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The Kingdom of God

September 28, 2007

I really believe that God’s kingdom is here.  Now.  It’s not something that we need to look way off into the future for.  Jesus brought it when he came.  And he left it to continue to grow and advance against the opposing kindom (of darkness) by His church.  Now I understand that the full and total consummation of God’s kindom still awaits us.  Our King hasn’t returned…yet.  There is still a war, but at this point it is a war of clean up; a war where a victorious army marches into the enemy strongholds to finalize the surrender and defeat.  That is what the church has been doing and should have been doing from its inception.

Recently I have experienced God’s kindom advanced tangibly and forcibly.  Over here in Thailand, we teachers (of the school I teach at) have a small vendor down the stree that we frequent on a regular basis.  This food is good!  The owner’s name is Sombat.  He’s a sweet, gentle elderly man and he’s so gracious to serve us on a regular basis.  His little shop only seats 15 to 20 people at most, but sometimes 10 or more of us will come at one time.  That’s a lot of cooking for one person (he has a lady that cooks for him).  Needless to say it can get crowded and busy when we come by.  But he’s always happy to see us.  He’s got a tenderness that I don’t see in many people.

Sombat is a Buddhist.  In fact, he’s a very superstitious Buddhist who keeps many idols and relics around his place to protect him against spirits, and to give him merit (karma).  One misconception concerning Buddhism is that there is no belief in the supernatural – that it’s just a philosophy.  In reality this is far from true.  Buddhists are trapped in fears of evil spirits and bad fortune.  So many Buddhists keep relics or small idols in their place of work for protection.  If you get into a taxi, 99% of the time you can look on the dashboard and see a little Buddhist idol/shrine.  It’s heartbreaking.

Mr. Sombat has had some major problems with his stomach lately.  I’m not sure exactly what the problem is (a language barrier prevents us from communitcating with him clearly), but in any case we became aware that he was going to need surgery to ease the pain that he’s been having.  He was scheduled to have surgery this Wednesday.  A good friend of mine (the one who introduced me to the school here in Thailand) was eating on Monday and heard the news of Mr. Sombat’s illness.  As a believer in God’s full manisfestation of the kingdom and the authority of believers as participants in this kingdom, he humbly asked (along with another teacher) to pray for Mr. Sombat.  He prayed in the name of Jesus for healing for his stomach and that the doctors would go to look on surgery day and not find any problems.

A few of us continued to pray for a manifestation of healing encouraging each other’s faith in prayer.  It’s easy to doubt or be afraid when asking God boldly to heal someone.  I think God understands.

In any case, yesterday one of the teachers who prayed went down to Sombat’s place and was greeted warmly by Mr. Sombat.  It turns out that when Mr. Sombat went to the doctor on Wednesday (for the scheduled surgery) that they place the tubes with the cameras to see about the problem and found out that it wasn’t there anymore and that he would not need surgery!!  They simply gave him some sleeping medications for him to get more rest.  Mr. Sombat said these words, “your God healed me.”  Our God healed him.  The King of all kings, the Lord of all Lords, the God above all gods in his compassion and mercy and willingness and desire to show himself healed Mr. Sombat! 

There has not been an opportunity to express the gospel in a clear way in order for Mr. Sombat to respond, and there is still plenty of opposition to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  It is a hard thing indeed for a Buddhist to renounce his religion and embrace Christianity.  Their cultural identity is tightly locked up in Buddhism (even though not many closely follow it).  But, I feel confident that a door has been opened and the Holy Spirit will move.  The gospel has been expressed (healing), now we must pray and wage war against fear and oppression.  But Mr. Sombat will never be able to doubt the existence of our Mighty God again.  He had a head on collision with the beauty of Jesus Christ. 

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

In His love.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. studentsofthesevenseals permalink
    September 28, 2007 9:39

    The kingdom of God is INSIDE OF YOU!
    No where did Jesus say in his own words that you could not be a Buddhist and a good Christian at the same time.
    As you know there are many forms of Buddhism and some do not believe in superstitions (as you say) like Zen Buddhism for example.
    It breaks MY heart that you wont repent from your false apostate beliefs in your dark enslaving Archon the Demiurge, and join the true (Gnostic) faith.

  2. Matt Bohlman permalink
    September 30, 2007 2:07

    Buddhists do not worship Jesus nor do they submit themselves to His kingship over their lives because their philosophy and practice is all about seeing into one’s own nature and attaining Buddhahood within. The teachings of Christ know no such thing. Christ understood that the human “nature within” was dark, corroded, and so corrrupted that there had to be a spiritually infused born again experience through the transformative (not rehabilative) work of the Spirit of God. Christ repeatedely spoke of how we are to DIE to our natures rather than “tap into” their hidden well springs of Buddhahood potential. Peace.

  3. October 1, 2007 10:47

    It’s called the new buddhism. People who are Buddhist, by culture, believe in Jesus Christ and are transformed by the grace of God.
    New Buddhism believes that God’s grace is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and that only by experiencing the grace of God in Jesus Christ can one find true salvation.
    New Buddhism believes that affirming the truth of God- the creator of all truth- no matter where it is found is to live in the spirit of Christ. It holds that, according to God’s Word, none of us have “arrived” nor can we possibly do what is necessary to please God and receive salvation in and of ourselves. It believes that we need to “release” our control of the truth and be ready at all times to see and rejoice in God’s truth wherever we find it.
    If Jesus is enabled to be born into Buddhist culture he will “spark an outbreak of real Christianity – just not Western European Christianity”.(McLaren, A New Kind of Christian)

    p.s. CROSSING CULTURES AND WORLDVIEWS TO IMPACT THE WORLD:The Importance of Language and Cultural Values. if we are to interact with people in culture effectively. It’s my 2 baht.

  4. Matt Bohlman permalink
    October 7, 2007 2:38

    An interesting paragraph, Ja. I’m all about “rejoicing in God’s truth wherever we find it.” In Buddhism there is much to celebrate in terms of moral, ethical truth. However the real conundrum arises because both Christianity and Buddhism make definitive statements about final reality…or the “way things really are.” The conclusions are antithetical to one another and cannot be syncretized together without completely watering down or diluting their beliefs to such an unrecognizable degree that both camps would reject them as being false expressions of their faiths. The Bahai faith essentially does this with all religious faiths in their effort to massage them all together into one mold and under one banner of “truth.” Lastly, I couldn’t help thinking that what you wrote on New Buddhism was a bit self-defeating. You express two fundamental truths of New Buddhism: 1) God’s grace is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and only through his grace can we find salvation, 2) We cannot receive salvation in and of ourselves.

    But you then make this statement concerning the underpinning of New Buddhism that holds everything together: “We need to ‘release’ our control of the truth and be ready at all times to see and rejoice in God’s truth wherever we find it.” I couldn’t help wondering if New Buddhism would include their own aforementioned truths as that which needs to be “released.” In other words are you suggesting that truths are not anchored into an objective, absolute reality and therefore we need to be careful that we don’t say to an adherent of another faith, “What I believe is true and what you believe is false.” If so why bother postulating what New Buddhism believes as TRUE if in the end they must be released so that we can embrace alternative truths when such truths are encountered somewhere else… that may even contradict our previously held truths.

    Lastly, why are we calling it New Buddhism? What is it about The Buddha that we are meant to retain in our journey to God that we don’t find in a fuller expression in Christ? I have no problem with most of the moral and ethical truths as taught by The Buddha (or by Confucious for that matter) but we are kidding ourselves if we think these philosphies don’t make definitive statements about reality in terms of ontological truth, existential truth, metaphysical truth, etc. The underpinning of Buddhism’s moral element is completely anchored into dogmatic, non-negotionable doctrines of reality… such as Karma Law, Samsara, reincarnation, dependent origination, etc. These beliefs are in complete contrast to what we find in Scripture and so I don’t see much of a need to “flirt” with or retain the word Buddhism in order to retain its moral truths…truths which we also find in Christ to an even greater degree and yet without all the false trappings. And I guess that’s my 2 baht 🙂 God bless. -Matt Bohlman

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