Don’t miss the Kingdom because of frustration with Church!
The Church and the Kingdom of God are different but they are not separate. A growing trend has emerged favouring the ‘Kingdom’ while disparaging the local church; which is like saying we like Jesus but not the Father. This is a profound deception damaging the wellspring of what we propose to support. It suggests the churches are inconsequential! This perspective ignores the significant truth that the ‘faith community’ is the wellspring of Kingdom Life for the believer.
Different but Connected
The point is, we cannot embrace the idea of the Kingdom in order to avoid Church. The Kingdom is not the Church but it flows from the Church, which, in this sense, is the collective of the believing community. In fact, God has purposely structured the Church and the Kingdom to be interdependent–symbiotic. But here is the real issue as missed by those looking to devalue the faith community: The values which enable you to love the Church empower the manifestation of the Kingdom. Meaning, if you cannot love the Church, then you cannot truly manifest the Kingdom.
The Apostle John was the first to make this point after Jesus Himself. He was uncovering the hypocrisy of those who claimed to love God but not His people.
To make his case John cites the central message of the Gospel, saying, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” – 1 John 1:5. Consider his words… ‘This is the message…’! In other words, this is the heart of the matter. He sets this out as a key pillar and the summary of Christ’s entire message. He is basically saying if you do not get this, you are disqualified from anything else beyond it.
He follows that guiding truth with an obvious consequence.
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,…” – 1 John 1:7.
Let me simplify John’s point. In short, if we walk in the light we are able to fellowship. The inverse is equally true, if we cannot have fellowship, we should question the light we are walking in. Which is also what Jesus was saying when He stated, “Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness”–Luke 11:35(NLT).
God is light! If we are in Him, we are increasing in light. This same light works in us to remove the very things blocking our fellowship. In short light creates fellowship. On the other hand darkness is the cause of broken fellowship. If we cannot continue loving people then there is darkness at work. This is the litmus test revealing what is really at work in our core. It answers the question whether or not we are purveyors of light. We cannot suppose to advance the Kingdom of God when we are filled with contempt for the Church.
Our journey with our spiritual family is the training ground. It is the means God uses to refine us and show us the degree of our love. When we become frustrated to the point where we withdraw from fellowship, we are disqualified from the very thing we long to do–advance the Kingdom of God.
We cannot quit the program yet still hope to get a degree. Rather, the classroom equips you to advance the Kingdom. Christianity is not an on-line degree to be gotten in your closet. The very challenges we face with people and their social structures are the keys to our destiny. It was the reason Jesus said ‘feed my sheep’ once Peter claimed to love Him. The proof we love Jesus is we can walk with His people. This message was summarized by John when he wrote:
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.” – 1 John 3:14
There are no shortcuts in the Kingdom of God. A clear path is set by Jesus and the Apostles we must adhere to. If you have a heart to increase the Kingdom, then do not allow yourself to be robbed of the opportunity to truly contribute.