Friday, April 8, 2011

Church or Kingdom?

This is not one of those blog posts bashing the "church system" or the ineffectiveness of the church in our culture (even though I could get on that one).  But it is a simple question that has been posed to me time and time again by Holy Spirit.  What is it all about...the church or the kingdom?  Actually it is very much about both.

First of all, the church is the body of Christ in the earth and God's
means of winning the world to Jesus.  The church are those with the kingdom of God inside of them.  The church (born of Holy Spirit) is the New Testament expression of God's love for mankind and His acceptance of mankind through Jesus Christ. The church IS the expression of Jesus!  The church universal is an awesome organism.  But centuries of too much focus on the local church has produced division and separation of millions who are citizens of the same kingdom...the kingdom of God.  Instead of the laws and principles of the kingdom, many churches teach their own doctrines based some on God's Word and some on man's philosophies.  The result is a prejudiced view of all others who believe differently and, you guessed it...division.

Years ago I went to a interdenominational, city-wide prayer luncheon in the city.  There were people there from many denominations.  I would venture to say the diversity represented that day had something to do with the free meal.  Hey, I'm always game for a free meal!  We always prayed before eating (more spiritual you know).  When we were called to prayer I noticed groups began forming around the large banquet room.  There was one group of folk (all praying at the same time) in one corner of the room.  There was another group praying silently in another area.  There was yet another group kneeling and praying one-at-a time in another area of this large room.  In an instant many diverse little groups (coinciding to different denominations) formed in that room.  Now I'm not being critical mind you (because I was with my group), but I do notice things.  That stuck with me.  There were praises sung that day about different folks with different strokes coming together in the same room to pray.  But when it came to actual prayer...they all scattered to their groups.  The images in my mind of what happened that day are a microcosm of the church today....divided.

Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my church..."  He didn't say "My churches..."  The church He spoke of is the church universal...the body of Christ in the earth.  Jesus also proclaimed time and again, "The kingdom of God is at hand."  A kingdom is a domain/realm ruled by a king.  A kingdom has its own laws, rules, and principles.  The kingdom of God is the same way.  Jesus came to establish His church.  But He established His church in order to house and extend His kingdom.  Many people claim to be apart of a church.  They belong and adhere to its doctrine.  But many of those same people don't belong to the Kingdom.  How do I know?  Because they don't live by its principles and laws.  They (by their own actions) are not subject to the King.  If folks live by the principles and laws of God's kingdom, church denomination/affiliation should not matter.

The church age will end.  Then the kingdom of God will be completely established in the earth.  The Bible clearly teaches this. There won't be any denominational or nondenominational churches, just the kingdom.  It's not "kingdom now", but it is "The kingdom of God is at hand!"  Revelation 11:15 says, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever."  All government will truly rest upon His shoulder.  The only government will be His!  Those who have made the King their Lord and Savior, and who have submitted to live by His laws and principles, will shine forth in this kingdom.  It's time for those who claim to be "kingdom" folk to lay down the principles of the kingdom of the world, and to begin living or dying by the principles of the kingdom of God.  The King of this kingdom will reign forever and ever.  I want to be there with Him!  How about you?

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