This is the first of many blogs I plan on writing about this topic.
The Kingdom of God VS the Church. The very title of the blog elicits emotions and preconceived ideas in most readers. Let me start by saying a few things that may surprise some of you. First, I am in no way against The Kingdom of God. In fact, I consider my primary allegiance and commitment to Jesus who is God and to His ultimate Kingdom, commonly called The Kingdom of God. At the same time I also love those in the earth that Jesus calls His body, the called out ones otherwise known as The Church.
To understand this topic properly we must first look to Jesus as the ultimate example. When Jesus walked the Earth in human form He was not trying to create or build a Church. In fact, He actually passed off that responsibility to Peter and the other Apostles. Jesus came here with two main goals; one to fulfill His calling and destiny by enacting His own brand new covenant with His own death and two, to recapture the keys to death, hell and the grave through His resurrection from the dead. For these two things to happen, there first had to be an establishment of a spiritual atmosphere. A situation wherein the climate and timing of Heaven was converging with the climate and timing of the Earth. That convergence is called the manifestation of The Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of Heaven and The Kingdom of God are two very different things.
The Kingdom of Heaven is a term that refers to the literal place of Heaven. The Kingdom of God is a term that refers to the governmental structure by which heaven operates and functions. The Kingdom of God is in fact the government of God.
When John the Baptist comes on the scene, he says repent for the Kingdom of HEAVEN is at hand... but later when John gets captured, Jesus comes forward and says repent for the Kingdom of GOD is at hand. (Matthew 3 and Mark 1 respectively). John message of repentance is based upon a instilling a fear into the hearer by saying "Hey, the plan of Heaven for the ages is about to unfold here before us all..so it's about to get real up in here... but when Jesus arrives, His message of repentance is based not on what is to come, but what now is right here and right now as He says "Hey, The King, the Governor of heaven is HERE and I'm Him! John pointed to what was coming, Jesus pointed to what now is! John instilled Fear as every Old Covenant prophet always did. Jesus on the other hand installed Grace and a deliverance from Fear. That's why John's gospel says the law come from Moses but Grace and truth came thru Jesus.
In this understanding we see a very natural and very Godly progression. Moses brings the law which reveals man's failures and separated state from a Holy God. John and the prophets before Him bring the fear of God back into the people of the Earth, all leading up to Jesus who fulfills that covenant based on man's failures and installs His own brand new covenant based upon He Himself paying the price for everyone who will believe upon Him.
The progression continues as Jesus hands off to Peter and the other early leaders the job of advancing His Kingdom into every corner of the earth. They are to do this in a very certain and specific way that includes creating gatherings of believers meeting in people's homes in what we would think of today as a very communal living type of situation. There would be overseers installed that would share power and authority equally. Hundreds of years later man would add to the original texts of holy scripture and use words like Pastor, Bishop and Elder.. but make no mistake, in the original Greek, all of those words are the exact same root Greek word which simply means overseer. God knew back then there was great wisdom and protection in not elevating a single figurehead because under this brand new covenant of His, He lone wanted to be the only figure head.
The modern church today has strayed in many ways from it's original calling of manifesting God's Kingdom. Worse yet, in many cases it has settled back into a John the Baptist type of ministry of declaring to the world to repent because Jesus is coming soon. The real message of the Kingdom of God is that Jesus has already come the first time and now it's up to you to come face to face with that and either accept Jesus for yourself or reject Him. That is the gospel of the Kingdom that shall be preached before the end shall come.
Let me add, I am very excited at the idea of Jesus second coming. I long for that day to be sure... but my message is not one to say get your life together because jesus may come back and find you doing something wrong. My message is that Jesus has already come and His deep love for you brings you to a place of choice and decision about your life.
If the church you attend carries that message of the Kingdom of God, I'd say you are in a good place. Plug in deeper and enjoy your time there. Let God move thru you as you collectively enjoy the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, if your church is one that traffics in fear of God coming back to find you not holy enough, I'd begin to pray about moving on to a place that has a bit more revelation about the fact that Jesus already has come and his goal is to reveal his Kindness to people's hearts as that is what will lead them to repent... not the threat of being found out.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.