Prophet

The rebuilding of God’s Kingdom is going on now and God uses the lives of His people in diverse and distinct ways. RBA is particularly focused on building the Kingdom with a distinct focus on the Black Community. While we seek the support and fellowship of any and all believers, our goals necessarily place us at the center of the Black experience, thought and life. It is evident that the growth and content of the American Reformation is not equally proportionate or influenced by various communities. We are seeking indigenous reformation from this community in order that the American Reformation among all communities may increase and profit.

As an aside, embracing a Kingdom-building effort necessarily includes the defining and embracing of reformation as an aspect of Kingdom growth. Attempts to define and explain reformation in the African-American community cannot take space here. However there is a critical differentiation that must be made concerning RBA, Reformation and Kingdom-building and it is this: RBA does not desire to bring reformation to the Black Community. Rather, RBA seeks for reformation to come from the Black Community. In this way, Kingdom-building and reformation is rightly indigenious and a true representation of the surrounding community's needs, perspectives, abilities and gifts.

But I digress. As a constant gardener particularly in the Black Community, it is very easy for a Reformed Black man to assume the position of seduction and aid and view the Black Church and Community as always on the receiving end of their “Reformed and sanctified green thumb”. The gardener and the garden although performing different functions, simultaneously enjoy and thrive in this relationship. Mutual benefit and joy is achieved. However, it is very easy for the Reformed man to consider himself superior in relationship and interaction with the average believer and when this happens, he or she is no longer gardening.

Importantly, the idea of a superiority complex can be biblically dealt with when Reformed folks think more about God's particular design for them as a builder in His Kingdom. The challenge with any Christian is being able to balance desired comforts with the challenges and needs of their present struggles. One must constantly evaluate their own desire to relieve struggle while at the same time focus on others. As the Reformed believer thinks more about others, he thinks less about himself and truly begins to garden.

An illustration which paints an imbalance in the believer’s life between one’s own illegitimate desires and comforts and the needs of the Kingdom exist in Haggai 1:2-4: This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.’ ” Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” (ESV) Among the many reasons this text is gripping, it is meaningful that Haggai actually makes 2 house calls. He calls the Israelites to take a look at the houses they have built for themselves. And he calls the Israelites to consider the need to build a house for God their King and Deliver. This text communicates much today.

1. Within reformed culture and context, what are our “paneled houses” if you will or our places of comfort, security and elaborate design? (One may have particular answers of their own. I will take a broad approach.) Well, I’ve indeed already given away the answer--it is our Reformed culture and context, our Reformed comfort zone of elaborate design. Our peer groups, relationships and reading collections are so often composed almost entirely of those people and things with which we are comfortably most familiar. Many of us have basically reached the point where we have difficulty valuing anything or anyone who writes, preaches, lives or thinks outside of our Reformed comfort zone. We almost have reached the point where Calvinism and Reformed theology are a tag or human designation of worth and value.

2. However, it is this Reformed context and culture that also aids in bringing clarity and definition to that which is God’s house. Creation, the entire landscape of it, is God’s temple or house. And creation, the entire cosmos, is in need of redemption and our redemptive presence. It is our presence which the Builder solicits in and among the places to which the Spirit does lead us.

3. Haggai also makes a third interesting point in verse 2. The Bible will at times present a theme of non-neutrality or contrasting positions. For example, one is either for or against God (Matthew 6:24, Luke 4:8). And the reader of Revelation 3:17-18 sees the presentation of a church (Laodicea) and their misapplied concerns as being polar opposites of God’s desires (Revelation 3:17-18). This theme is latent but present in Haggai’s discernment of his audience. The concern of the people to build houses and comforts for themselves actually indicated a lack of concern, disinterest and even disapproval or a turning of one’s back on the needs of the temple.

We as believers understand today that while it may be uncomfortable to love and form relationships with those who don’t think like us, this is a vital Christian action for Kingdom growth. Our gracious God has revealed that the lack of Kingdom growth is a direct result of the absence of intentional relationships and demonstrated love for others which brings many to proclaim their need for Christ (Acts 3:17-21). Our actions too often signify a desire to remain in our place of comfort which we have built as our own temple for ourselves.

4. It is interesting that Haggai uses the word “dwell” (v. 4) to describe the people’s attempt to maintain their comfort zone. Reading Haggai’s words in light of Paul’s usage of the word “dwell” (take over, settle, colonize) actually seems to indicate a greater sense of self-centeredness on the part of the Israelites. “Dwelling” in light of Paul’s teaching and even the fundamental Israelite focus (Genesis 26:1-5), was to be a form of Christian godly presence with the focus on surrounding areas. Whereas the people of Israel were actually “dwelling” and most concerned with their own personal places of comfort, Haggai was informing the people of their need to rebuild the location of God’s presence on earth for the benefit of the community in which they were surrounded.

The temple of God, which was in need of repair, is a direct analogy to our entire world and everything in it. The Holy Spirit leads the believer to the particular community for which he has been designed as a gardener. God does this in order to support the rebuilding of that community in order to support the rebuilding of His creation.

Co-Founder Michael Mewborn