– Pastor Brandon’s article from the April 2017 Newsletter
A few weeks ago we introduced the song “Build Your Kingdom Here” to our congregation during our worship service. It has been one of my personal favorites over the last several years, and I am praying that it will bless, encourage, and challenge you as well. I love it because it’s an upbeat celebration of God’s plan to restore creation and because it is a prayer for him to work through us, his people, to advance his kingdom on earth.
When we think of the kingdoms of men, images of tyranny and oppression often come to mind. Throughout human history, we observe countless dictators and self-serving regimes who dominate and exploit the masses. Yet, the kingdom of God is not like that. God is not served by human hands; he doesn’t need anything from us. He is no despot seeking to enslave and take advantage of the human race. Rather, he is the source of all things good, and he created us so that we might share in his goodness.
However, our wrongdoing brought about a separation from God and the goodness he desired for us. Creation became marred by sin and its effects, decay and death. Yet, Jesus came to reconcile us to God and free us from the power of sin and death. As we read through the gospels, we see Jesus preaching a simple message: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” This is a call for us to turn back to God and enter into right relationship with him. As we do, we experience the blessings of his kingdom.
Matthew tells us that “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them” (Matt. 4:23-24).
Notice here that the coming of the kingdom of God is accompanied by healing and restoration. The consequences of sin are decay and death, but they are overcome through the work of Christ. In him and through faith in him, we have access once again to God and his goodness.
As followers of Christ, we participate in the kingdom of God. Theologians often describe this kingdom as both now and not-yet. That means that there are elements of God’s restoration that we experience here and now. The physical healings and spiritual freedom that Jesus gives are examples of this. Yet, we understand that God’s plan for the full restoration of creation is not yet complete. There is a day coming when Christ returns to establish his reign forever. We look forward to that day when his kingdom comes in fullness, when decay and death are no more, and when all things are set right. And so we pray, Our Father, in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Follow this link to view the lyrics of “Build Your Kingdom Here.” I invite you to think through them carefully and consider how God is calling you to join him in advancing his kingdom.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:35-38)