Last week Pastor Debbie talked about the Kingdom of God in terms of Sacred and Secular. She doesn’t see it as a tension to hold, but rather as an inclusive (integrated) approach – wherever we go, whatever we do is sacred. With the follower of Christ, there is no secular. There is nothing we do or are involved in, or even are, that, for us, isn’t sacred, because the heart of who we are, as a Christian, is “in Christ”, or “Christ in us”. So, we sing, “This is My Father’s World, and to my listening ears, all nature sings, and round me rings, the music of the spheres.” And that is, in part, what I mean when we hold things tension in the Kingdom of God – when you hold a coin, you hold both sides at the same time. With some of these topics, we can focus too much on one thing over the other – too heavenly minded to be earthly good, or too helps oriented at the expense of our personal stewardship and spiritual care.
The attempt of this sermon series is to give you some good handles to hold you hold this idea of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is primarily spiritually-based, and so it needs to be looked at in ways different to many other things of life. I have talked about prayer to the Christian is as water to a fish – it is something that we walk in, that surrounds us, all the time. It isn’t an event, in that sense, but experience itself. Paul said to the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing – a constant communion with the Holy Spirit, and I think this is a great sense of what the kingdom is like. The Kingdom of God is like a lake in which all the fish swim.
Let me recap where we have been:
Ideology vs. Person: Sociological (almost political idea) of what it looks like her on the ground (i.e., liberation theology, dealing with poverty, etc.) in tension with the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The Whole vs. The Pieces: God’s story down through the ages, with the current context of the church where we find ourselves being transformed into the image of Christ is detailed as the Trinitarian deity sending the Church with the Gospel into culture where we witness through our transformation by God’s Spirit rooted in Spiritual Habits, Means of Grace.
Vision vs. Decision: God as Sovereign and at work in this world gives us context for our response to God’s grace and our decision to follow Christ, keeping us from turning that grace into the Law.
Story vs. Proposition: While the kingdom can and is taught, it is perhaps best understood by stories: stories of redemption and transformation, of intentional rather than careless behavior, of wisdom with choices and relationships.
Sacred vs. Secular: On earth as it is in heaven, we become the sample spoons of the kingdom of God through our transformed lives, through holiness.
Are you getting a handle on the Kingdom of God? Do you have a sense of how broad the kingdom is, yet how close and personal it is? There is a unity that ties it all together. Consider water – About 71% of the earth’s surface is covered in water, and oceans hold almost 97% of all of earth’s water. It is in the air as water vapour and clouds, in the rivers and lakes, the glaciers and great sheets of ice on the poles and Greenland. It is in the ground as moisture and in the aquifers, outside our doors in the snowbanks, and in you and me. In fact, our bodies are anywhere from 50-65% water. Water is everywhere, a part of practically everything, and without water, there is no life. The kingdom of God is like water, it touches everything, bringing new life. It takes so many different forms – even in a single form, a snowflake, there are countless patterns because the 10 quintillion water molecules that make up an individual snowflake are all affected by the changing temperature and humidity within the atmosphere. The kingdom of God is rooted in you and I, and we are as different as snowflakes – even identical twins have vast differences – trust me, I know.
And so I want to leave one more thought about the Kingdom of God. I have touched on this before, but I want to take time today to unpack the Being and Doing of the Kingdom. The Being refers to Christ incarnate in us, that when we accept Christ as Savior and Lord, as Forgiver and Leader, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.) Our essence and nature has changed as a result of being part of God’s Kingdom. We are the flesh and bones of God’s kingdom, and give the message that, yes, God’s Kingdom can change the world, can impact and influence culture, but only to the point where it has transformed the individual, changed u, changed our life. The mission of the Gospel is not to create a Christian nation, but to create transformed individuals. This is your destiny as a follower of Christ. In Romans 8 we read And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son – that is the destiny of all who follow Christ, who call Him Lord and Leader. It means that if you are following Christ, the end result will be that you are going to look like Christ – conformed to His image. He didn’t call us to look like something else, of for a different purpose, Christ has called to you so that as you walk in faith through His grace, you will come to look like Christ in your thoughts, words and actions. This is the Being, the existential part of the Kingdom of God. The missional part is the doing – everyone has a part. All of the church’s activities, and all of our activities, if we are truly missional, are focused on fulfilling God’s purpose and mission in the world, His misseo dei. An English rendering of this Latin phrase speaks to the “mission of God.” It is God who has a mission to set things right in a broken, sinful world, to redeem and restore it to what He has always intended.
Therefore, mission is not the invention, responsibility, or program of the church. Instead, it flows directly from the character and purposes of a missionary God. In the words of South African missiologist David Bosch, “It is not the church which undertakes mission; it is the missio Dei which constitutes the church.” Or stated in a slightly different way, “It is not so much that God has a mission for His church in the world, but that God has a church for His mission in the world.” God’s mission is not the church, it is a redemptive mission in the world, and the church is God’s instrument sent into the world to participate in this redemptive mission. And here’s the kicker – God’s mission, His doing, is one with His Being. It isn’t just what He does, it is who He is – the incarnation wasn’t just an act of God, it was God’s character in action. You know where I am going with this, don’t you? Your being and doing should likewise be as indivisible. Your doing is who you are, and what you are is what you do. You cannot separate the two. Just as God is Being and Doing, so are you to Be and Do. You weren’t saved to run around in the muck of sin, to play the games of the world, you were saved to be Christ in the world.
That chapter where Paul tells us we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5) finishes with this: Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Our being is rooted in our relationship with Christ, our doing is rooted in Christ’s character in us.