On understanding kingdom ministry – part 1
Recently I’ve been studying: Understanding Kingdom Ministry and over the next little while I am going to share a little of what I’ve been learning.
Firstly a definition of the Kingdom and why it is different to the church. I like this one by Ladd: “The Kingdom is the rule of God, and the realm of his blessings; the Church is the people of the Kingdom who have received it, who witness it, and who will inherit it” (Ladd 1952).
From Jesus’ parables we learn that: the Kingdom of God grows without man’s help (Mark 4:26-29); it is like a mustard seed which starts very small but grows very large (Mark 4:30-32); it is like yeast that works unnoticed through the whole dough (Luke 13:20); it is like a banquet where those who expect to be included are not and those who don’t expect an invitation receive one (Luke 14:16-24); we learn the kingdom can be present in the world at the same time as opposition (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-44); and that the Kingdom would not be complete at the time of Jesus’ first coming (Luke 19:11-27). Jesus also taught that God was not merely looking for outward conformity to a set of laws but wanted an inward change of heart, called repentance.
Furthermore Jesus did not just teach the theory of the kingdom but showed by his actions how the kingdom would operate in one’s daily life. His actions showed compassion to the poor, the rejected and the forgotten. They showed inclusion for those who were often excluded: women, children, Gentiles and slaves. His actions upset the Pharisees of his day because they held a very different understanding of God’s kingdom but this actually revealed the challenging nature of the kingdom. Sometimes from Jesus’ parables we get the impression that the kingdom is very passive – growing without attracting attention. However the kingdom also causes violent opposition (Matthew 10:34-36 & 11:12).
More in part 2.