Not of this world

Obscure and out dated, a relic from a time long past. You would be forgiven for thinking that this was an accurate depiction of the church of Jesus. Although this is a common conception I would suggest that there is more to it than this. Observations like these do have their element of truth and there are some church things that are just weird (banners and a love for pastel colours to name two). That being said they are not accurate statements and in fact they point out two clear presuppositions.

To begin with, this is not what is taking place globally. It highlights an under current of “western” worldview superiority. Our small area of day to day interaction is of course the representative norm for all other regions of the world, is it not? Well, no, it is not and it is to our detriment that we fall into this way of thinking. Secondly, this perspective shows that no real or regular engagement with the bible (the book which speaks of what the kingdom of God is) takes place. When these elements are combined it means that we can end up with a very warped concept of what the church exists for and what the kingdom of God is.

Before his execution Jesus makes sure that people know that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). It is something which acts in opposition to the human concept of conquest, oppression and economic extortion as the basis of a kingdom. This is why his followers do not rise up to rescue him (John 18:36).

No, the kingdom which Jesus spoke of was the one which he then went to the cross for (John 19:16-18). A kingdom based on truth. A kingdom which deals with the realities of sin and the pain which it causes. A kingdom that unites the perfect love and justice of God. A kingdom whose hope is found in the restoring power of God. It is a Kingdom centered around the cross of Jesus.

The church are the people of the cross. This is the basis of the growing kingdom, the cross of a loving, living king. A king who delights in welcoming people from every background, language, ethnicity, race and geographical location. This is a more accurate picture of what is taking place globally and it handles the biblical texts more rigorously. It challenges our worldview and it should because it is not of this world.

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