loren Eric Swanson: Changing the Trajectory of the Church Part 6

Friday, March 24, 2006

Changing the Trajectory of the Church Part 6

The church has to be the church and build the kingdom (part B)

As this point it is important to affirm that kingdom work does not in any way, shape or form, merit our entrance into the eternal kingdom. Jesus gives this ultimate disclaimer when he says,
“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles”’ then I will tell them plainly, ‘ I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Matthew 7:21-23

The kingdom without a king and a king without a kingdom
As we move forward in our work of the kingdom we need to keep1 in mind that the kingdom always includes a king. Historically the church (God’s workforce for expanding the kingdom) has drifted to one side of the pendulum or the other—trying to bring the king to people without helping to bring the kingdom or bring the kingdom to people while failing to tell them about the king. Both are less than Christian. The kingdom, by definition includes the King and this King, by definition, has a kingdom.
Questions for reflection
· What difference does it make to have as part of your mission “to build the kingdom” rather than “to build the church”?
What can you do to bring the King into your kingdom work?
What can you do to help build the kingdom as you announce the king?

Concluding thoughts
Can the trajectory of Christianity be changed? A hopeful answer is “yes” and a realistic answer is “maybe.” As I mentioned earlier, I am sitting in a hotel in Thessalonica (Thessaloniki). In the year 50 or 51 the apostle Paul and his two companions Timothy and Silas came here, preached the kingdom (Acts 17:7) and “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ’” (Acts 17:3). The description of the Thessalonian Christians that I read about this morning in Paul’s letters to them, are far from influencing the city I see today. At some point the church stopped multiplying. At some point the church grew inward. At some point the church stopped building leaders. And at some point the church stopped building the kingdom. But by God’s grace the trajectory can change.

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