The blog post below is written by one of the leaders in our SLI program. They were asked as a part of the leadership program to write about the Kingdom of God. Specifically, what does it mean to tangibly live out the Kingdom of God?
– SLI Staff
Within the church and its functions we often hear phrases like “love like Jesus” and “advancing the Kingdom.” But coming from someone who has spent only two out of the last twenty years of their life regularly attending church, they are phrases that I was, quite honestly, uncomfortable with. How could I ever be expected to love on the same level as Christ? He is the faultless son of God. And how could I advance the Kingdom, when I had no real understanding of what the Kingdom is?
I’ll be the first to admit that since being saved I had not truly taken the time to study the meaning of those phrases, nor how they were meant to affect my life. But this summer my understanding of these phrases has been challenged and, as a result, been radically changed.
When I first read/heard the scripture, “the Kingdom of God is forcefully advancing” (Matthew 11:12), my immediate thought was somewhere along the lines that we needed to force the gospel upon people.
In love, of course, because Jesus said to love your neighbor. But whether they wanted to hear it or not, and whether their hearts were receptive or not, the gospel was what they would hear. And if they did accept the gospel, they would join ranks with soldiers “sold for Christ” and begin speaking truth at anyone they came into contact with. Please, do not hear that we should not share the gospel. Those who have been adopted as sons and daughters have been given the incredible gift of redemption, and we should long to share that news with others so that we may rejoice with those who are being saved. But I am saying that shouting the gospel at someone never turned a heart to Christ.
Jesus preached to thousands, there is no doubt about that, but He also lived life with people. He was a friend of sinners, a man who ate with tax collectors and saved prostitutes from certain death. He was someone who went to healing pools to seek out the lowest outcasts in order to redeem them. And if we are ever going to advance the Kingdom and follow in the footsteps of the One we call Lord, we must rise up and live as He lived.
You see, the driving “force” behind the advancement is not me pushing the gospel onto someone. In fact it has very little to do with me at all. Instead, the advancement is driven by the the most powerful force in all of creation moving through me and using my life to reveal itself. It is the force that drives out fear, changes hearts eternally, and sends demons fleeing in panic:
The love of Christ.
Add that kind of radical love into the equation and suddenly, “advancing the Kingdom” is no longer a solemn obligation. Once our hearts fill with love, it becomes a joy to live as Christ did and spend time pouring into the lives of the lost. It is viewing those same people not as a project to be completed, but a treasure to be uncovered and restored. And the Kingdom no longer has the feeling of a Pharisaic group who shout the gospel in the streets. It becomes a Body composed of real, vulnerable, tangible people empowered by the love of Christ to welcome the lost and weary with open arms into the family of the Living God.
Additionally, if we are truly living in and for the love of Christ we no longer have to stress finding a time and place to share the gospel with those people. God in His infinite wisdom will create those perfect circumstances for us. All He asks us to do is the let the love of Christ move through us to call out to and bring back His lost sheep.
So let us rise up and seek out the lost. Let’s build relationships, invite them into our homes and share a meal with them. Let’s simply love on people and advance the Kingdom the way Jesus did. By living life with them.
—written by Rachel Swift, leadership apprentice with Summer Leadership Intensive