Last Sunday morning at Calvary church I talked about speaking your Kingdom word. This was an attempt to unlock the believer’s ability to communicate to others what God has done within them. I believe that I said something like this: the best word from you is about what God has done in you.
Have you ever noticed that when Jesus sent out the 12 and the 70, He gave them the ability and authority to essentially preach the kingdom and heal the sick. Jesus seems to combine and establish the element of speaking and doing (words and deeds) in the lives of the disciples. The disciples were not to only speak the message of the Kingdom, they were to also sent to embody it.
Oftentimes within the gospels we see that the disciples heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and drive out demons. These four things are mentioned time and time again throughout the gospel narratives. I believe that these four acts symbolize and serve as demonstrative elements of Kingdom speech. There seems to be a restorative function associated with the physical act of speaking. As the Kingdom is preached, fallen humanity is restored. The gospel writers seem to convey their understanding that the breaking in of God’s Kingdom yields powerful results. They document that the gospel of Jesus has a liberating and victorious effect on the hearer that not only reaches into their physical make-up but also addresses their spirit-being too. The results are nothing short of a supernatural makeover and a transformation of lives. People are re-born. Think about those who were raised from the dead. That event would change pretty much anyone’s day and perspective about this Jesus of Nazareth and His followers. Jesus seems to be demonstrating His Kingship over the physical and spiritual worlds. In fact He is.
Why do I say all of this? Simply to illustrate that I believe that the Gospel of Jesus is something truly remarkable. Furthermore, speaking and embodiment the Gospel was to always go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. A peanut butter sandwich is OK, and a jam sandwich is OK, but a peanut butter and jam sandwich is utterly divine!
There is no hiding the fact that I am a big fan of Luke. It also helps that I enjoy Star Wars and every time I think of Luke’s name it sounds as though Darth Vader is speaking. It is kinda cool. John and Paul just don’t sound nearly as good in Darth Vader tongue. “Luke …” it just takes the cake. I digress. Let me get back on track.
Here’s my continued point of emphasis. As followers of Jesus, the Church has the ability and power to speak and embody God’s Kingdom here on earth as in heaven. I personally believe and affirm that the book Acts testifies how the Spirit empowers and enables the believer to function in the world today. This function, or purpose is demonstrated through words and deeds that align with the nature and mission of God’s Kingdom: it is good news to the poor.
Jesus demonstrated the nature and mission of God’s Kingdom when He read from the prophet Isaiah. Luke reminds us:
The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (4:18-19)
Within the same chapter, Luke places Jesus saying this: “I must proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose.” (4:43)
Let me conclude this by commenting on last week’s post.
Perhaps a reason why we are seeing so many turn away from Christianity in Canada is because ‘we’ (the Church) have drifted away from our essential call, purpose and function in the world. Perhaps we have been guilty of caring more about human behavioural reform than demonstrating the nature and effectiveness of God’s Kingdom in the communities that we live in. Perhaps we have cared more about an individuals righteous standing and position than the restoration of others around us. Perhaps it has been more about us than others. Maybe we have lost the heartbeat of God’s Spirit to manifest the Kingdom of Jesus. In fact, God’s Spirit may have been specifically given at Pentecost to accomplish this purpose. Imagine a world where the Spirit fills all things to the point where it is equal to Christ’s fullness. Maybe that is exactly the Biblical point, the Spirit’s purpose and the believers profession. Maybe this is what being a follower of Jesus is really all about.
In the church that I pastor we are asking and wrestling with these questions. We are also making some fundamental shifts backwards. We are returning and re-focusing our message and identity to be aligned with God’s Kingdom. In other words, we are seeking His Kingdom first. Radical isn’t it? But this goes beyond talk, this must be embodied.
As a church, we have partnered with a community organization that exists to address hunger and support those who feed the hungry. In 2019 we formalized an agreement with the Kawartha Lakes Food Source (KLFS) to host their new shopping style food bank in our building. Ten months ago the Lindsay Community Food Market (LCFM) opened its doors, and the results were immediate and immense. Last month, over 320 guests were helped via the LCFM. Together we are helping the hungry in our community.
Further to that point, this past year we have given away over fifty back-to-school backpacks, hundreds of toys at Christmas and fed over 300 people from the community at a special Christmas dinner. The generosity of local businesses (Giant Tiger, Crayola Canada and Kawartha Bakery) has been incredible. Together we are helping hundreds of people who are in need. It reminds me of someone who once said that the Spirit of the Lord was on them to preach good news to the poor.
I admit that we are early in our journey to become a church that embodies the message of the Kingdom. I also admit that the initial results have not grown the Sunday morning worship attendance. In fact, it may even have an adverse affect. However, I am convinced that we are finally getting back on mission and becoming a group of Christ followers who are connecting with the hurting and the broken. In short, we are on a mission to figure out what the Kingdom of God looks like through us.
Perhaps this will help ensure that future generations of Christ followers at our church will continue to operate in the mission of Jesus and do the work of His Kingdom here. Perhaps then our church will clearly be demonstrating the power of what God has done in us to those around us. Perhaps then we will not only preach the gospel, but will also embody it.
This is our journey to be the Church.