I've been intrigued lately by discussions of Bounded versus Centered Set Thinking about the Gospel and the possibility of a Blended approach. Please see the following links if you are not familiar with these concepts.
As I've thought about this over the past couple of weeks, I've developed a metaphor I call the "Gravitational Model"
In this model, there is a planet at the center that is a metaphor for Jesus and a planetary atmosphere that is a metaphor for the kingdom. Outer space denotes being outside of the kingdom.
Here are the some of the key ideas:
Jesus is at the core of our gravitational model, like a planet with surface gravity, actively drawing everyone to Himself. Therefore we can invite people "where they are" to experience Jesus.
However, there is a threshold one must cross to leave outer space and enter into the planet's atmosphere, our metaphor for the kingdom of God. At some point it's essential to become a committed follower of Christ, to be a disciple not just a member of the crowd.
Just as the boundary between the atmosphere (of a planet like Earth) and outer space is not clearly defined, only God can define the boundary of His kingdom. We can be confident that we are his disciples when we receive Him by faith, turn from our own ways and follow Him. However, we can't create a set of rules to determine who is in and who is out. There will likely be some "unexpected" people whom Jesus has drawn from distant places over the boundary, that we can't differentiate, and into His kingdom. On the other hand, there will likely be hypocrites that we will be surprised to learn are not a part of the kingdom.
Just as Earth's atmosphere protects the Earth from harmful radiation and supports life, in the kingdom we fully experience the abundant life of Jesus and protection from the enemy who wants to destroy us.
I also made this comment in response to the following blog entry: Can We Skip The Middleman
Please let me know your thoughts about this. Thanks.