Have you ever been in the situation where you have been chatting with someone and in that discussion ‘church’ is mentioned? You often get one of two responses:
- ‘Oh that’s nice.’
- a blank expression with an uncomfortable twinge in the shoulders followed by a grimace on the face!
It’s easy for us to talk about Church. It’s something we do, something we are a part of. We have close friends there, have some kind of gathering that we like to invite people to, a mid week program… But the good news is NOT church centred.
It may not have occurred to you but in Matthews gospel the word church is mentioned 3 times! That’s 3 Times by Jesus! Once, when Jesus declares ‘I will build my church…’ (Matthew 16:18 emphasis mine) and secondly, where the word is mentioned twice, in the instruction on how to deal with trouble makers (Matthew 18:17).
Now lets contrast that with what Jesus actually preached about… Namely, the Kingdom of God, His Father’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven… At a quick count in my NIV study bible concordance, I have counted at least 45 times in Matthew alone that Jesus speaks about the Kingdom/ Kingdom of God/ Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus came announcing the reign of God. That’s what the Kingdom is. God’s Kingdom, God’s reign, expressed through lives repenting – turning around and following Jesus. It’s both an inward reality – The Kingdom is within – Jesus reigns in my life and also an external reality – God’s reign breaking in through the announcing of the good news of Jesus and confirmed with signs and wonders.
The Kingdom is also both a present and a future reality. It’s present here and now amongst those whom Jesus has become King and over the Body of Christ. It’s a future reality because Jesus will return to complete His work and bring in a Kingdom that is eternal.
I wonder… Do we need to get back to a Kingdom centred gospel? After all, Jesus is the King whom we follow and pledge our allegiance to and it’s His reign we are ushering in. I sincerely believe that when we announce that the Kingdom of God is near we will see lives transformed and I have confidence that building church is Jesus’ work that follows our faithfulness in ushering in the Kingdom of God. Let’s not be concerned with bums on seats in church but in lives entering the Kingdom of God.
May His Kingdom come, and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Blessings … Oliver