OUR MISSION PART 5: Empowering Churches Across Cultures to impact unreached people FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD

The World Impact Missions statement ends with the short phrase ‘…for the kingdom of God.’  In our time, kingdom seems an archaic concept and it can be difficult to connect with its relevance to us today.  Here in Australia we do not even have a king–we have a queen; and she is a rather distant remote figure in another country with little real power in Australia.  If we do think of past kings, we may think of arbitrary power, despotic rulership, hereditary privilege or unearned wealth.  Or we might think of potential future monarchs such as Prince Charles or Prince William who could be king of England one day;  but, whatever our politics, I doubt many of us would be looking forward to that with great anticipation or passionate interest.  So what does the Kingdom of God mean for us today?  How is this archaic concept relevant to World Impact’s mission?

Kingdom of GodAny reading of the New Testament shows that the Kingdom of God was central to Jesus thinking, preaching and mission.    Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom, he asked us to pray ‘your kingdom come ’ and he lived on earth in a time when everyone was looking for a king—a saviour who would come to deliver the people of Israel.  To understand Jesus’ concept of Kingdom we have to understand the times Jesus lived in and the way people then looked forward to salvation, deliverance and political change.  Over the next few weeks, I will discuss the Kingdom of God in more depth.  I hope this will help us connect with a very important perspective on God’s mission and our mission statement.  For the rest of 2013 we will follow up on this theme … for the Kingdom.

A good place to start is with a simple biblical description of God’s kingdom.  Paul in his letter to the Roman’s explains to his readers that God’s kingdom ‘is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ (Rm 14:17).  By eating and drinking he is referring to the rules and regulations which governed the people of Israel’s dietary practices.  Under Old Testament law, the people of Israel could not eat things such as pork and certain types of seafood.  For Paul, these were an example of religious regulations that had become a barrier to God’s mission.  Some Jewish sects such as the Pharisees had come to regard diet and other ritualistic practices and forced abstinences as a sign of spirituality.  Non-Jewish people were regarded as ritually impure because they did not follow these cultural regulations.  They believed that breaking the religious cultural taboos in areas such as diet led to defilement; and because of this, Gentiles were excluded from God’s presence in the temple.  Thus the rules of diet and other religious rituals had become more important than fundamental values such as justice, mercy and faith; and they acted counter to God’s missionary heart, he wanted to have a saving relationship with all people.

Jesus thoroughly rebuked this attitude.  For example, Matthew 23 is a very passionate attack by Jesus against such religiosity.  In very prophetic language, he proclaims a woe on the religious leaders who practice religious ritual and ignore ‘the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.”  (Mt 23:23)  What law is he referring to?—the Law of the Kingdom of God.   God’s rule, reign, and the law it operates by, are ultimately guided by principles of justice, mercy and faith.  In Romans 14:17, Paul echoes Jesus.  He claims that the Kingdom of God is not about religious rituals but about similar biblical principles and values.  When we speak of the Kingdom of God we are then talking about a Kingdom that is not ruled by ritual and religious regulation, but one guided by values such as justice, righteousness, mercy, peace, and faithfulness.  These values and principles lead to a life of joy and fulfilment as we walk day by day in relationship with the Holy Spirit.

This year, as our world impact team focuses on the Kingdom part of our mission statement, we will emphasise the important biblical values and principles that should guide those who live under the rule of God’s Kingdom.  Some of these are;

  • A Kingdom of Justice
  • A Kingdom of Faith
  • A Kingdom of Joy
  • A Kingdom of Heart
  • A Kingdom of Power
  • A Kingdom of Righteousness
  • A Kingdom of Mercy

It is these values that define the way we should do missions and the type of impact our missions teams should seek to have as they reach out to impact nations for the Kingdom of God.  Kingdom values, Kingdom impact and Kingdom practice are all about justice, mercy and faith.  When we reach out for the Kingdom we are reaching out with that type of Kingdom impact in mind.  We see our ministry as one that will extend justice, mercy and faith to nations of the earth.  We are not about religious ritual but about a life giving relationship with Jesus Christ and life enhancing values that build community and value human dignity.

Next week we will begin to explore theme of the Kingdom in more depth.

– Andrew