Jesus preaches the Kingdom. “Repent!” he says, “The Kingdom of God is near!” And then what does he do? He frees the prisoner, heals the blind and lame, rescues the oppressed.
Those are the signs of the Kingdom.
John the Baptist sends to find out if Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus says, look, you know what the signs are. “…the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”
That’s the Kingdom.
Distressed people being encouraged. Cold people being warmed. Hurting people being comforted. The outcasts being brought in and made family.
The Kingdom of God.
When we talk about the Kingdom strictly in terms of church and the institution and the rules and the order — when that’s our whole idea of Kingdom — we quickly lose sight of the very things that the Kingdom of God what it is. Centuries of church development and decision-making and rule-making can cloud our vision. When we see the Kingdom exclusively as church, we tend to focus only on the features and characteristics of the church.
Our challenge is to insure that our identifying characteristics genuinely correspond to those of the Kingdom Jesus was preaching. Maintaining our institutional status quo is not necessarily the same as being faithful to Jesus and his mission. Being a member in good standing or being a middle-of-the-road church isn’t necessarily the same as living under the reign of God.
Our King came into this world in order to serve and to save. And that is the business of his subjects, as well. May our Lord bless us as we serve and rescue and save in his name.
Only nine days until the Cowboys kick off their 50th regular NFL season. One week from Sunday, they’ll tee it up against the Bucs down in Tampa Bay. And we’re counting down the days with what we’ve been calling the Red Ribbon Review. These are the second-best players in Cowboys history according to jersey number. The almosts. The also-rans. The not-quites.
Today’s #9 is Super Bowl punter Mitch Hoopes. (Doesn’t his picture just scream “Mid-70s”?) He was part of that historic Dirty Dozen draft of 1975, taken by Tom Landry in the eighth round out of Arizona. One of the few, if only, times the Cowboys have ever drafted a kicker. Hoopes was the punter as a rookie that year, posting a pedestrian 39.4 yards per kick average. Dallas made a shocking run to Super Bowl X, a heart-breaking loss to the Steelers in Miami, and then promptly brought in Danny White during the offseason to back up Roger Staubach.
And to punt.
Hoopes was released. And White became, in Staubach’s own words, “America’s Punter.”
Tomorrow’s #8 in the countdown is the only other player in Cowboys history to wear #8 besides the obvious Hall of Famer. Buzz Sawyer. His real name is Robert Meade Sawyer, according to pro football reference guides. But the Cowboys list him as Buzz. He was born in Waxahachie, punted for Texas A&M and Baylor, and wound up playing for the Cowboys scab team during the 1987 players strike. Three games. 16 total punts. 39.9 yards per kick average. And the only exclusively-scabs player to make the Red Ribbon Review.