Jesus constantly taught about the kingdom. His message was the Gospel of the kingdom. His parables gave insight into the kingdom. His invitation was to enter the kingdom. When he sent out seventy followers to prepare for his arrival, he told them to announce, Gods kingdom is right at your doorstep! The kingdom is the existence, the presence and the authority of the king. And Jesus is the King. All the time he is coming to every person, looking for a Yes to him as their king. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world, wrote John.
The word kingdom appears 121 times in the four Gospels, the word church appears three times. Jesus spent almost no time describing the forms or activities his followers should employ when they gathered. He spent years describing the heart, the attitudes, the loyalty and the conduct of his servants as they lived, suffered, and represented him in a world gone wrong. The kingdom is not represented by cathedrals, worship centers, organized religion, or festive events. It is represented by people who are like their king humble, gentle, generous, loving, full of faith but unimpressed by wealth, power, or position. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting mens sins against them. And he has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore ambassadors for Christ, as though God was appealing to you by us. We implore you on Christs behalf: be reconciled to God. Il Cor 5:19,20. What an astounding calling!
This is not an anti-church theme. Its simply a paradigm that is larger than church and precedes it. When we talk about going to church we mean the church when it is gathered. But the church gathered is not the messenger. The church scattered is the messenger. Thats why the New Covenant is marked by the gift of the Holy Spirit given to every believer! As relational insiders we advance the kingdom into our extended families, into our workplace, into our neighborhood, into the gym, etc. Instead of inviting the lost to church, we need to invite them to coffee, to lunch, to our homes. We need to dialogue with them in circumstances that build rapport and treat them with God-like character. Let your light so shine before men Believers, of course, should gather to encourage one another, to learn from one another, and to pray. But, we dont need to gather to impress the lost or even to offer them a chance to worship. Worshipping is fashionable these days but without faith in the King, its ineffective. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are from me. Lets be the kings ambassadors all over town 24/7. Lets use our lives and homes to be the churchs half-way houses, open to the disinterested and unconvinced.
No one can visually see the kingdom. The kingdom does not come with careful observation, nor will people say, Here it is, or There it is, because the kingdom is within you. The kingdom may be active when you are at church, at work, with your family, or with your neighbors. Or it may not. The question is whether Jesus is free to express his presence and influence in us, whether the light of the King in our lives is ON. If the assembly of believers can occur in any number and at any time, then Jesus promise makes even more sense. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. Obviously, local congregations who have a desire to see everyone present on Sunday morning need to mix this traditional expectation with all other valid expressions of life in the kingdom. We are not encouraging a lack of enthusiasm about the regular assembly of believers. We are encouraging freedom and creativity as we serve our King all week long.
For further study on the Kingdom of God: Ps. 47:2; 103:19; Dan. 2:44; 4:17, 25-37; Mt. 3:2; 6:9; 10:33; 13:24-52; 19:23, 24, 28-32; 20:1-19; 21:28-32; 22:2-14; 25:1-46; Mk. 1:14,l 15; 4:11-20, 30-32; 10:14; Lk. 8:1; 11:14-20; 14:15-24; 17:20-37; Jn. 3:1-21; Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20; 6:9-11; 1 Th. 2:10-12
+ Contributed by Dan Greene, Navigator StaffViews: 1008