Jesus said: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Matthew 6:33
Jesus Christ is King of all and His Kingdom includes those who are of Him. To be a true Kingdom Church, we are individually and all-together to seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. Not the things of the world, or its ideals, or its values, or its agenda – but the things of God, and His ideals, and His values, and His agenda. This does not mean that we should forget about our responsibilities, concerns, and relationships in this world. They are very important. But it does mean that our purposes, goals, and attitudes for those things are of a completely different heart and mind and that the tools we use are of a completely different type. How is a Kingdom Church different? Here is a small sample.
- A Kingdom Church has as its absolute priority the mission of the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: To spread the Good News of the death and physical resurrection of Jesus, so that others may be baptized and receive forgiveness and eternal life. We cease to be a true Kingdom Church when we compromise the Good News of the Gospel of salvation for lesser gospels or agendas of the world. We cease to be a true Kingdom Church when we dilute our mission with cultural, political, social, economic, and other agendas.
- A Kingdom Church provides an “other worldly” alternative to people consciously or subconsciously longing and aching for something divine, heavenly, and holy – something on Earth as it is in Heaven. When the church swirls within its message the messages of the world, the Good News weakens and people leave unfed, unfulfilled, and without the Spirit of God. When this happens, the wonderful difference between the Kingdom of God and the world is removed and people leave in the same condition as when they arrived.
- A Kingdom Church is filled with the love, joy, and care of Jesus for all people we meet, no matter their situation, beliefs, or ways of life. Jesus never taught that we must agree with people to love them. Withholding love for agreement is not an option. Many churches make clear by implication or actual statement that certain political, social, and cultural views are part of the package one accepts by being a part. A Kingdom Church recognizes that people might have all sorts of worldly ideas, but that faith and life in Christ are our vital focal points.
- A Kingdom Church informs the culture around it of the love, message, and values of God. The culture does not inform a Kingdom Church of the love, message, and values of a fallen humanity. Yet, too often churches fall into this trap. Political, social, cultural, economic, and other agendas are frequently the focuses of and the “lesser gospels” of many churches. Cultural churches are the result rather than Kingdom Churches.
- A Kingdom Church does not preach politics from the pulpit. Rather, it preaches the love and teachings of God, by which the Holy Spirit changes hearts, in turn changing the world, including its politics. We are to trust the power of God and His Holy Word, not political strategies, forces, or manipulations.
- A Kingdom Church does not lower itself to partisan politics and is unmindful and uncaring of whether it is thought to be conservative or liberal as society might define. It speaks and acts in imitation of its Lord Jesus. Whether His will lands us to the left or to the right in society’s eyes is of no eternal meaning or merit. Notions such as liberal and conservative are extraneous to, subordinate to, and of no consequential meaning to the Gospel.
- Illustrating from the vernacular, Jesus was the most morally conservative person who ever lived, never compromising His Father’s holiness. Likewise, Jesus was the most socially liberal person who ever lived, never compromising His Father’s love. Thus, humanistic or societal loyalties to things “conservative” or “liberal” are flawed and fallacious. A Kingdom Church seeks to never compromise the holiness of God and to never compromise the love of God. We seek to be like Jesus and that is hard enough without tossing cultural and societal identities into the mix.
- A Kingdom Church recognizes that Jesus did not come to bring a political, cultural, economic, or social revolution. He came to bring a SPIRITUAL revolution. A Kingdom Church therefore focuses on the things of the Spirit, recognizing that even well intended introductions of the issues of the world can be, and almost always are, contaminants, dilutions, and corruptions of the Kingdom of God. They bring division, discord, and an opening for evil. Remember, the Gospel informs the world and not vice versa.
- Does this mean that a Kingdom Church does not care about, discuss, or act upon things like poverty, government, violence, refugees, injustice, prejudice, or pollution? Certainly not! Jesus and much of the Bible make clear that these things are of enormously deep and vital concern to God and we are called to serve against them. But Jesus and the Bible also make clear that our tools to overcome these problems are of the Holy Spirit. Jesus and the Bible also make clear that our means are to be of a completely different heart and mind than the world around us. As a church we are to provide sacrifice, witness, love, and the Word of God to change hearts, which in turn will change the world. We are not to take up the corrupt and humanly designed tools and means of the powers of the world.
- Does this mean that the people of a Kingdom Church do not participate in politics and elections? Certainly not! We are to be the salt and light of the world. We are to participate as emissaries of God’s Kingdom using our assets and votes to try to make the world around us as “on Earth as it is in Heaven” as we can. But we do so by God’s ethics and criteria, not those of the society around us.
So, there are 10 ways a Kingdom Church might be identified. More next time!