Friday, April 5, 2013

Being Kingdom Builders

Our women's Bible study is going through the book of Mark, and right off the bat God is opening my eyes to Truths that I'd never thought of before.  Last night we were reading Mark 1:15 where Jesus says, "The time has come, the kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!"  We began asking ourselves: what is the kingdom of God?  We see that phrase so often in scripture, and Jesus spent a good deal of time teaching about it, so clearly it's something we need to try to wrap our minds around.

Jesus made it very clear that he didn't come to Earth to establish a physical kingdom as many Jews of the day assumed.  His was and is an eternal kingdom; a kingdom he calls us all to be a part of.  But the question is: what does this kingdom look like right now?  I believe the Kingdom of God to mean everything that is submitted to God's sovereign authority, and we become part of the Kingdom when we are united with Christ through faith.

Our next question was: what is the purpose of the Kingdom?   I believe it's tied to our purpose in life on this Earth.  We were created to worship God, to glorify him and enjoy him.  John Piper once wrote, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."  So the purpose of God's kingdom is that we would live in obedience to Him and worship him in everything we do and with everything we are.  But worshipping God is far from the drudgery that many people may imagine.  Psalm 37 says, "Delight yourselves in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."  God doesn't call us into a kingdom and a life of sameness and boredom.  He call us to an abundant life where we find delight and joy in relationship with Him.

This Kingdom of God is dynamic.  It's not as if we do one thing to warrant admission and then we forget about it.  God invites us into this kingdom to be his children -- to walk in relationship with him for eternity.  When Jesus taught about the Kingdom through his parables, he wasn't giving us a list of do's and don'ts.  He was demonstrating that following him is about a relationship.  Jesus was never interested in starting a religion called Christianity.  He was and is interested in teaching us to walk with him daily.  I'm thankful that we don't have a to-do list of things that will make us worthy of this kingdom, because I know that in my own strength I could never earn it.  God, through his grace, allows us to come and follow his Son, and it is this unity in Christ that makes us worthy.

It is interesting to think of the kingdom as it relates to missions.  Bringing the gospel to the nations is something Patrick and I are passionate about, and pretty much everything we are doing in life now is in preparation to go overseas in the next few years.  So it's not surprising, that everything God is teaching me now is related in some way to his purpose for the nations.  Why does missions even exist?  John Piper put it well in saying, "Missions exists because worship doesn't."  I've already said how I believe the purpose of the kingdom is to worship God fully, so it follows that the purpose of missions is about building God's kingdom.  Missions means extending this invitation to people all over the world, most of whom have never heard this Truth.

I realize that people tend to get really caught up in the here and now of missions; the planning, the going, the support raising, the strategies, the harvest, etc.  This is all good, but I wonder if we're focusing on the means rather than the end.  Yesterday I spent awhile just imaging what life will be like when missions truly is fulfilled.  When the gospel has been preached to every tribe, tongue, and nation, and the people of God are united.  What will it be like when the task of missions and evangelism is complete?  What will life in the kingdom really look like?  I like how Louie Giglio describes it as an "after party for all nations."  Scripture gives us a picture of eternal life in the kingdom as seeing God face to face and worshipping him forever.  I believe this will be a time when God truly and fully give us the desires of our hearts in himself.  That is certainly a kingdom worth building!