Community and the Kingdom of God

In seminary, I had to do a paper on the kingdom of God.  When I saw on the syllabus that the paper would be assigned, I thought that it would perhaps be one of the most boring projects I would ever have to endure.  As I got into the church planting process, however, I kept hearing all of this talk about the kingdom of God and how pertinent it was to understand it in the context of the church. 

In this current age we live in, we belong to churches that are sometimes less than personal and find it difficult to know everyone.  Whether this is because the church is too big or just because people do not make the effort to know each other, we end up going to church and worshiping with a group of acquaintances.  Rarely do we dine in each other’s homes or support one another when we are hurting.  I am not saying that all churches are this way, but there are for sure many cases of this lack of a sense of family today.  So what is our response?  What should we do?

This brings us back to our discussion of what the kingdom of God is and how it is brought about.  The kingdom of God occurs in three forms: the past kingdom, the current kingdom, and the future kingdom.  The future kingdom of God is the eschatological kingdom that Jesus speaks of in Luke 14:15 – 24 among other places.  This will be the kingdom of God that exists in the end.  This is the permanent kingdom, but there are ways that we can create pockets or glimpses of the kingdom here on earth. 

The past kingdom was in the person of Jesus – the man who physically walked this earth as God in the form of a man.  All of the miracles that were done by him as well as he himself were manifestations of the kingdom of God.  In Luke 11:20, Jesus answers accusations of casting out demons in the name of Satan.  He said, “If I cast out demons by the power of God, then the kingdom of God has arrived among you.  He was of course speaking of himself. 

So how can we have a current kingdom of God?  In Luke 9:1-2 we see that “Jesus called together his disciples and gave them the power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases.  Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”  Throughout the gospels, Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God occuring in such acts as taking care of the poor (Luke 14:7-14, Matthew 19:21, Luke 4:18-19, etc.), healing, forgiveness, humility (Luke 14:7-11, etc.), and hospitality (Luke 7:34, 14:15-24, 15:1-2, 24:28-31). 

Ok, so what does this have to do with us today?  If Jesus’ disciples (isn’t that us today?) were given authority to do all of the things that bring about the kingdom of God and we are called to do it in community as the body of believers, then how can we do these things if we are not truly in community?  Isn’t it only right that we should not only be a true community that knows and cares for one another, but shouldn’t we also work together side-by-side and hand-in-hand to carry on the mission of God as a missional body in the attitude of love as a community?  THAT, is what The Crossing needs to be about – loving, supporting, uplifting, encouraging, caring for one another and then going together to show glimpses of God’s kingdom through the love of Christ to his people.  Ah, how I look forward to doing that that with you!

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