Monday, October 8, 2012

The Kingdom

In the previous post ("JOURNEY") I briefly listed the word associated with each letter of the acrostic. In my next post, I will begin discussing the individual component beginning with the letter "J". The "J" is for Jesus. As a Christian, a disciple, a follower, or however else you want to be designated, the JOURNEY must begin, and end, with Jesus. But we must come back to the destination of the Kingdom one more time before entering our JOURNEY.

Again, our journey is destined for the Kingdom. Yes, we find can find Jesus in church, but when the church ceases to exist, Jesus, and His Kingdom, will remain. In fact, as Jesus begins His ministry (as recorded by Matthew and Mark), he mentions the Kingdom is at hand. Throughout the gospels, Jesus mentions the church three times (once in Matthew 16, twice in Matthew 18). However, the term the Kingdom is mentioned over 120 times, mostly by Jesus. In the book of Matthew alone, the phrase Kingdom of Heaven is used more than 30 times.* Jesus wanted to ensure the people focused on Him, and His Kingdom. When we place our trust in a person, a church, or any other man made institution (even if created/ordained by God), we will be disappointed. But Jesus and His Kingdom are true and last forever.

*Matthew was interested in showing his readers (the Jews) that the Kingdom they desired was one which was spiritual, not physical. In addition, while Mark or others could have used Kingdom of God, the Jews would not write God's name (YHWH, Yeshua, etc) and thus, Matthew spoke to them in terms of Heaven, not G-d.).

So, it begins with Jesus, as the Son of God. If we seek first His Kingdom (Matthew 6.33), then we will not be disappointed. If we seek His Kingdom, we begin to experience it on earth, and will serve in it for eternity. Jesus' Kingdom is not of this world (John 18.36), but we are to serve Him now by faith with love and obedience (John 14 and 15).

Does this mean the church is irrelevant? No. The church DOES matter. The church (you and I as believers) is the agent for God in His Kingdom. Truly, we should not think of church as a place to attend, but rather something to be. Of course, in being the church, we should gather with others to worship, serve, and disciple others. However, inviting someone to church is selling God's ultimate destination short. The church is a part of the Kingdom, not the final destination.

As we begin to shift our mindset towards a Kingdom mindset, we must engage AS the church to not only live our lives in, not of, but help others to do so as well. We do that by remembering Jesus!

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