FOR AUDIO VERSION CLICK HERE.It just seems to be a logical thing. If you've grown up in Church or outside of Church, you certainly would not be surprised at or balk at the statement, "Jesus mostly taught about the Church." But that statement is a myth; it is not a true statement. Jesus only mentioned the church three times in two passages.
Matthew 16:18-And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 18:17-If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
The damage is threefold: FIRST-By believing this myth you will find yourself with an emphasis Jesus never intended or embraced. The term "church" is not a special, holy word. I was taught in my first Greek class that it was created as a highly charged, powerful term, meaning "called-out ones". It was presented to us as a spiritual term-a Christian term, but in actuality it wasn't. However, it was used for any gathering-a city council or gathering for any specific purpose.
SECOND-By believing this myth you might begin to believe that being a member of a Church and identifying with a Church are at the core of what is at the heart of Jesus.
Why do you think we emphasize the church & minimize the Kingdom? I think there is a sense that one or a few can control the organized Church, but only God is in control of the Kingdom. Also, the Church is visible and easier to relate to; the Kingdom is invisible and therefore difficult to get your arms around. Since the Kingdom is Jesus' major theme throughout His ministry and since we want to walk, think, love and talk like Jesus, then our theme is best viewed as JESUS and the KINGDOM.
The Kingdom is the rule of God on planet earth both personally and in community. The church is a simple gathering together in the name of Jesus. It is simply a gathering of followers of Jesus. This simple gathering of followers of Jesus on any day and at any location is a church. These gatherings revolve around four ingredients-fellowship, food, prayer and the apostles' teachings. The only one of these ingredients that might throw you a bit might be the apostles' teachings. We see this as what had been passed on through the early disciples about Jesus and the Kingdom. So, since the Kingdom is the rule and presence of God on planet earth, you could also think of it as wherever the King is, there is the Kingdom. The King and the Kingdom are inseparable. Therefore a good way to view the Kingdom is Christ-likeness universalized.
The Kingdom is universal and everywhere. The church is a local gathering of followers of Jesus who are seeking, sharing in and spreading the gospel of Jesus and the Kingdom. The church is not everywhere, but localized and limited to those who choose to gather together. The Kingdom is everywhere and unlimited in its impact on society. The Kingdom is not waiting for a local gathering to be established in order to have its effect. The Kingdom is already there in every country and in every culture.
By the way, this triggers a lot of implications on the prevalent thinking of "planting churches". The message of Jesus and the Kingdom is spreading like a mustard seed, starting as small little groups and growing. It's also spreading like leaven in a lump of dough, growing irreversibly in our world. Wherever you see Jesus and the Kingdom breaking out in a culture or neighborhood or group of people, get there as soon as possible and encourage them.
Our theme then is the theme of Jesus-it's the person of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Note this theme throughout the book of the Acts of Jesus.
1. In Acts 1, it says, After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Jesus was concerned to present Himself to His disciples personally and then He spent these last few days teaching them about the Kingdom. He felt it was that important.
2. In Acts 8, Philip was teaching in the area of Samaria and it says, But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus the Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Note again, the theme is the name of Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
3. In Acts 28, when Paul was under house-arrest in rented quarters in Rome, many came to meet with him. Note what he felt was most important: He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. Later in the same chapter it says, For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus the Christ-with all boldness and without hindrance!
Note that none of these men-Jesus, Philip and Paul-felt it was important to teach anyone about the Church. It was all about Jesus and the Kingdom. So, why do we spend most of our time and energy discussing and teaching the many themes of the Church, when Jesus didn't? Why do we do that?