A Foretaste of the Kingdom

"The church is then not simply the bearer of the message of reconciliation, in the way a newspaper or a telephone company can bear any message with which it is entrusted. Nor is the church simply the result of a message, as an alumni association is the product of a school or the crowd in the theater is the product of the reputation of the film. That men are called together to a new social wholeness is itself the work of God which give meaning to history."

Individual salvation is not the focus of the New Testament, the arrival of the Kingdom prophecied in the Old Testament is. The good news of the New Testament is the Kingdom of God has arrived. I won't repeat how I came to that conclusion here. If you are interested, I posted on it very early in the history of Pulling Weeds Out Of Potholes. It is a foundation upon which everything I think and write is based on. When it was explained to me, the floodgates of the Word of God opened up and everything made much more sense.

I'm left wondering. If the end result of salvation is becoming part of the Kingdom of God, then why is it such a forgotten topic in our churches? I had never even heard of the teaching of the Kingdom until three years ago, after I had graduated from Great Lakes Christian College. It is a teaching that has almost disappeared, yet it is plainly written throughout the New Testament.

We live in a church culture that has the tendency to focus on the minimals of the Christian faith. "What is the minimum I have to do to be saved?" "How far can I go in a sin before it is too far?" "My faith is personal and I don't need community with others." These thoughts are not foreign to many in the church. They have all played a role in my faith at one point in my life or another.

We live in an alien culture that teaches us to desire the maximum benefit for a minimal investment. Efficiency is the gospel. However, efficiency attacks the true Gospel square in the face. We all know we can't be Christians without denying our whole selves, yet that is something we often like to try. We try to have as much of the world while having just enough of God as we need to get by. We want to be Christians without making the sacrifices it takes to live in community with our brothers and sisters.

We will never experience the maximum life that God has planned for us if we don't consciously combat the individualism, independence, and fear of authority that our society ingrains in us from birth. The Kingdom of God cannot be experienced to its fullest if we continue to cling on to the teachings of this world. Christ is our King. We are residents of His Kingdom. That changes everything.

And the old motto that I hear all the time and have bought into on multiple occasions - "Just worry about your own faith" - falls flat on its face if you truly believe in being part of the Kingdom of God. A strong faith is nourished by a strong healthy church. Not a church in the sense of a place that is focused on meeting our individual needs, but a church that is focused on exemplifying the Kingdom to the best of its abilities. Gathering together with people that are consciously trying to be a foretaste of the Kingdom is essential to being a healthy Christian. May God bless every one of us with such a group of people.

Watch out for the potholes.