|Image from Entrepreneur's Online Paper.|
Starting in Simplicity and Meekness
JESUS talked of nothing but the Father and his Kingdom. The goal is for believers to be transferred to the kingdom and live there permanently as they also live in the world at the same time. The priority is living in the kingdom by its principles---in its culture, dimensions, realities, practices and mindset. The kingdom life, in short.
Not denominational manuals, policies and doctrines. What most Christians know are only these things---how to function and operate in their denominations---but they are complete strangers when it comes to God's kingdom. After you get saved, most churches take you to their own kingdoms. Their own little empires. But if you seriously follow Jesus, he will take you to God's kingdom. So, how well do you know God's kingdom?
Among other things, the kingdom of God is about supernatural power, which you very rarely see (if any) in church denominations. Paul said, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power." And that power is also a strange thing among many church people, especially the religious. They think it's the same power the world brags about. So they love to show off church membership, church income, big church structures and mega churches. No wonder there is politics even in church today.
Thus, I thought of starting a series of talks about what the kingdom actually is and see for yourself how different it is from the "church" we have today.
Entry of a Strange Kingdom
Finally, the time for God's kingdom to start reigning in the world with its King came after about 400 years of nothing from God since Malachi. What we see in the Old Testament are mere shadows of the things to come [Hebrews 10]. The realities of the kingdom, however, started with Christ's advent [Colossians 2.17].
But what people saw of the real kingdom shocked them. They thought God's "power" was the same thing they were used to in the world. But the King of this kingdom was born in a manger, in the little town of Bethlehem and of poor parents. It was the least they expected from a "king" whose kingdom was supposed to conquer the world. You've got to see this clearly, "eat" it, and get its DNA. Then you'd understand the kingdom of God.
Sadly, most churches fail right here and come out so different from the glorious church of Jesus Christ, which is without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Yes, they're mega and peopled and moneyed, and propagating and "growing," but they're worlds apart from Jesus' radiant church.
The church should build the kingdom on earth but the church should operate solely on kingdom principles (and never on anything of this world). And this first principle is where most churches fail---the principle of weakness. Most churches want to be great and yet are powerless. They have everything the world appreciates and yet remain insignificant. They don't understand that the least is the greatest and that real power is made perfect in weakness. The last thing they want to be is become least and weak. So they do everything to be big and respected by the world.
But God introduced his kingdom in weakness. Mary had to be found pregnant outside marriage (but nothing sexually illicit there) and Elizabeth her relative had to be barren and pregnant at an old age---both uncalled for if you want social acceptance. Then Jesus had to be born in a manger and then live like a fugitive, hunted down to be murdered by Herod. They always had to hide and run for their lives like losers. Then finally he grew up in a notorious town called Nazareth. "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Nathaniel once said, doubting Jesus' origins.
They seemed so helpless---far from being a picture of greatness and power. God could've just zapped all his enemies to dust and proved that Jesus was God and supreme King but didn't, because this kingdom principle of weakness is so important. Jesus had to lower himself before John the baptizer and be baptized by him "to fulfill all righteousness."
The Old Testament fathers also suffered thus. Abraham had to leave Ur and wander off and be childless until he was about a hundred. Jacob had to be mistreated by Laban. Joseph had to suffer unjustly. Moses was sent far away to the desert and live as a lowly shepherd. David, too, did menial jobs as a shepherd. In the kingdom, you start and end by carrying your cross and denying your ego. You empty yourself and take the form of a servant as Christ did.
But what do you find in church today? They want to brag about their titles and degrees and achievements and ministries.
Now you understand what Paul meant when he said God's kingdom is not a matter of talk but of power. "Power" here does not mean a show of force but a show of weakness (or utter dependence on God)---being meek and poor in spirit to be specific. This is vital in the kingdom and in kingdom building. A lot of people can talk about "reliance" on God but just mouth empty words. You see them doing the exact opposite. They think they're great and crave for respect and recognition from others.
Well, a lot of pastors do start small but they have secret desires of being great and handling great ministries some day so others would look up to them. Ministry is like showbiz to them---everything is done for a show, to prove their worth.
Begin with Emptying Yourself
It was how Jesus began his ministry. We should do no less. Embrace the Jesus cross. Keep simple, be humble and do everything quietly. Never compare yourself to others.
We do not dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. [2 Corinthians 10.12]
It's better to start your ministry quietly and humbly, outside the limelight, than by making noise and spectacular grandstanding. I've seen a lot of churches have their "grand launching" like secular companies do, with lots of noise and fanfare. Is it effective? Of course it is. People rally to them and join them. But they end up being far from the radiant church of Jesus, without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Jesus and the Acts church started quietly in some corners and remote places, operating stealthily within enemy territory under cover of God's presence, not fanfare or gimmicks. And they turned the world upside down.
"He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets." Or, "He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets." [Isaiah 42.2 and Matthew 12.19]
When they did make noise, it was hated by the world and ended up in trouble or persecution---yet for God's glory. Unlike what churches do today---they make noise to attract the world and be accepted by it, or prove that it is more worldly than the world. They make sure their noise pleases the world.
If you do not understand the kingdom, you will do God's will in the ways of this world. You will have an appearance of success but it's all empty. And eventually, your fruit will reveal who you really are. Fire will reveal the true nature of your work.