Tuesday, May 26, 2009



This seems to be one of the most frequently misunderstood issues of the Kingdom. The confusion centers around the distinction between the "church" and the "kingdom". Even though Jesus only mentions the "church" in two instances, today the "church" is the constant and most frequent theme for those who believe in Jesus. Why did Jesus avoid teaching about the church? Why did He spend most of His teaching about the Kingdom? The only logical answer that makes sense to me is that He intended for us to seek after the Kingdom and practice it in all of our relationships.

Most confuse the church today with the Kingdom just like most confuse "heaven" with the Kingdom of heaven or the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is the rule of God on planet earth both personally and in community. The church is a simple gathering together. The term "church" is not a special or holy word as many believe and teach. It literally means "called out ones" and was used to describe city council meetings or any kind of assembly. It simply is a gathering of followers of Jesus. It's a movement, not an organization!

You see this plainly when you consider how Jesus and His disciples viewed and referred to the synagogue. Very rarely did any of them criticize the synagogue or suggest that other synagogues ought to be established or planted in order to have better teaching or worship or even a synagogue where Jesus' words would be taught. This is so different from what we see and hear today!

The followers of Jesus were caught up in actively following Jesus and His teachings. This is why I like to call it a movement-the Jesus movement. The Jesus movement met in homes and in the Temple courts. They went to synagogue, but they had a different relationship with the synagogue. They were caught up in this Jesus movement, so that they didn't feel the need to bash the synagogue. They orbited around it and people at the synagogue were attracted to the irresistible Jesus and the practice of the Kingdom in the dynamic of the disciples. They also orbited around their villages and businesses where friends and family were drawn in to the love of Jesus. The Jesus movement was in orbit wherever 2 or 3 followers of Jesus gathered together in fellowship. It was an orbiting movement!

In the same way today, there is no need for us to bash the synagogue (the church) or even to feel we must start new ones in order to have better teaching or worship than an already established one. There is not even anything from Jesus that urges us to build the "church". He said, "I will build my church." What He wants from us is to be it. Being the church of Jesus is patterning yourself after Jesus and His teachings and practicing the Kingdom principles within the context of a few friends-all in the name of Jesus. In that sense the church of Jesus is and can be anywhere and everywhere.

Luke describes these little gatherings and what they did in the Acts of Jesus: They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

It seems to me that rather than building the Church, it would be so much more effective to practice the Kingdom. NOTE some differences between the organized church and the Kingdom: - The Church is local and limited; the Kingdom is universal and unlimited. - The Church is an earth-to-heaven connection; the Kingdom is a heaven-to-earth connection.

- The Church is never called the Gospel or the Good News; the Kingdom is. - Jesus barely mentioned Church (twice); He taught so much about the Kingdom.

- The Church is visible; the Kingdom is invisible. - You go to Church; the Kingdom goes with you. - The Church tends to be an organization; the Kingdom, a movement.

- The Church gathers and scatters; the Kingdom is always present among you. - You enter Church by attendance or membership; enter the Kingdom by following Jesus. - The Church may or may not grow; the Kingdom is continually growing.

- Churches can be shut down; the Kingdom cannot be shut down. - The Church may have God present; the Kingdom is God's presence.

So, where is the Kingdom practiced? Anywhere and everywhere! The challenge is this. Are you patterning your life after Jesus and His teachings and practicing the Kingdom with a few or are you just attending a Church. The Church is great. The Jesus Kingdom movement is far better!