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CLAY 2018: Thunder Bay

Upside-Down Kingdom/Beyond These Walls

A recap of Scott Evans’ talks on Saturday, August 16, 2014 at CLAY 2014.

“The Upside-Down Kingdom: The First Shall Be Last”

During the morning Large Group Gathering, Scott described the various images of Jesus that are presented through churches and the media. Usually, it’s as a really, really good person – easygoing, maybe even so easygoing that He doesn’t seem to really stand for anything.

“Sometimes we talk about Jesus as though they killed him because he was just so sweet,” Scott said. When in actual fact, people sought to kill Jesus because he threatened the entire religious establishment with His subversive teachings. Scott pointed to Matthew 23 as a key passage where Jesus’ stance on the powerful teachers of the law and the Pharisees is made clear.

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Matthew 23: 12-13

Jesus was forcing people to question the idea of how a religious life was supposed to be led. Rather than remaining focused on Heaven and the rewards to come, we must remember the suffering in this world. Jesus promises to quench our thirst, but when we commit to follow Jesus we also commit to becoming springs of life for others.

“Beyond These Walls: The Word Became Flesh”

In the afternoon Large Group Gathering, Scott built on the idea that faith and action are deeply connected. God has always sought to make Himself known, and He plans to do it through you and the Church (the community of believers). You are Plan A, and there is no Plan B. From the Fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis Chapter 3 and onward, God has been trying to call His people home.

In an age where young people are leaving the church in high numbers and church organizations as we know them today are shrinking, what does this mean? Scott made a passionate speech in favour of staying with the Church.

“We don’t give up on God’s plan for the world because it doesn’t suit our needs. Does church suck? You are the church too!”

Rather than walking away when confronted with hypocritical practices, worship that doesn’t make sense or help us to connect with God, we need to spend time investing in the church and changing it from within. Walking away from the church won’t solve any of its problems, but staying will. Scott brought a quote up on the screens.

“The church is the only community that exists primarily for the benefit of its non-members.” – William Temple

Scott added: “Church does not exist for us or for our own entertainment.”

“Faith without works is like a heart without a heartbeat” and the Church becomes the place we go to, and then leave, in order to serve others.

– Hannah Shirtliff, CLAY 2014 Communications Coordinator