The Church and the Kingdom of God

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Amidst all the turmoil and polarization in the United States and other nations, this is still a wonderful world! Yes, it is a fallen world where bad things happen to good people. Yet, Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

The Christian story is one of unprecedented love, forgiveness, passion, sacrifice, rejoicing, and celebration. The King of the universe sent his only Son to planet earth to demonstrate his love for us, to bring us good news,  and invite us to live in his kingdom.

Perhaps, you wonder, “Where is the kingdom of God?” Wonder no more! The central message of Jesus Christ in the four gospels is the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the realm where we experience God’s reign. It is also the kingly rule of Christ over every area in our lives. It is both present and future.

When our actions reflect Jesus, then the kingdom of God is present. Wherever and whenever we yield to the King of kings, there is the kingdom of God. Jesus said at Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” Belief that brings the kingdom, however, is more than intellectual assent. It requires action.

The parable of the wedding feast of a king found at Matthew 22:1-14 reveals the kingdom of God as a present reality. There are three main figures: the king who gives the party (God); those invited to the party but who rejected the invitation; and, those who accepted the invitation and rejoiced.

In seeking to understand the parable, we need to know some of the customs involved in giving a banquet in the first century Judaism. The Jews of Roman Palestine ate only two meals. The first was a late breakfast eaten mid-morning. The second meal was eaten in the evening when there was no longer sufficient light to work.

Customarily, a banquet would be held in the evening. Two separate invitations would be sent to the guests. Sometime before the actual feast, the host would send his servant to announce to the guests the forthcoming festivities. The second invitation would be brought by the servant on the actual day of the feast to inform the guests that all was now ready.

This parable reminds us that God’s invitation to the party has gone out. We are all invited to the great banquet in the kingdom of God. We either accept the invitation or reject it. And we may only accept the invitation on God’s terms, not our own..

When we accept the invitation on God’s terms and allow Jesus to transform our lives, we become kingdom people. Once the kingdom of God enters our hearts, we do not remain the same. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us convicts us of our sin and transforms us to live without that sin. We are citizens of the kingdom of God. We are reflectors of his glory. We must be intentional about our behavior. As we submit to the Holy Spirit, we talk differently and we act differently.

There is a difference between church-attenders and kingdom people. Some people can attend church and not invite the King of kings to reign in their hearts and lives. Unless the people of the Church are totally submitted to Christ, she cannot fulfill the kingdom’s agenda.

The Church that God delights to bless is the one that is totally dependent on him., one that is intentional about the kingdom’s work and continues to go out to invite others to the banquet. Rejection of some should not keep us from continuing to invite others. As with the guests of the parable invited the the wedding feast, acceptance of the invitation remains the choice of the invited.

We, his Church, must continue the work of his kingdom with excitement and dedication. Until Christ comes for his Church, we are his servants charged to extend the invitation to the party to all. We, the Church, must continue to be fervent in prayer and faithful to God, share the Gospel and invite others to the kingdom feast, disciple and baptize people who accept the invitation, and relieve suffering wherever we find it.

Our time here has an expiration date. We must not waste it. Seize the moment and make every minute count for the Kingdom.

©2023, Jacqueline Leveron

(You can find the full sermon on YouTube . It starts at 42:53 )

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