Over the last 2 weeks it has been incredibly exciting for me to begin laying out the mission - this biblical mandate - that God has placed on my heart for our church to "Equip God's People to Bring His Kingdom Everywhere We Go!" If you missed either of those messages I would encourage you to begin there. You can check out the podcasts on our website: www.thebrookchurch.com/pages/podcasts.html. To follow up with these messages I'm going to write a series of articles here to continue bringing this into focus and building onto the biblical foundation for this mission God has given us as a church.
As we've talked a LOT about "Bringing the Kingdom" I know many have wondered, "What will this look like in my day-to-day life?" or "How will this change things in any way?" I believe a great starting point for those questions is in Matthew 18. In the NIV Application Commentary on Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins proposes that throughout His ministry and messages - particularly when He talks about the "Kingdom" - Jesus lays out 5 distinct aspects and characteristics of those who choose to come after Jesus and call themselves "Christ-followers". He presents is this way:
Matthew 5-7: Radical Everyday Disciples
Matthew 10: Mission-Driven Disciples
Matthew 13: Clandestine-Kingdom Disciples
Matthew 18: Community-Based Disciples
Matthew 25: Expectant-Sojourner Disciples
I want to look specifically at the Community-Based Disciples that Jesus describes in Matthew 18. There are 5 different situations or people that He speaks about in these 35 verses. In each case, Jesus describes 2 alternatives: the way of the world and the way of the Kingdom. Wilkins explains the alternatives in Matthew 18 like this:
1-6 - Pride is replaced by Humility
7-9 - I'm responsible for ME replaced by I'm leading other disciples
10-14 - Condemnation is replaced by Restoration
15-18 - Separation is replaced by Reconciliation
21-35 - Conditional Forgiveness is replaced by Relentless Mercy!
When these transformations take place through the power of the Holy Spirit and our obedience to God's Word, our witness as His church ("citizens of Heaven") comes both through our declaration of the Gospel and living out the Gospel as a family of faith. Our church - and ANY church, for that matter - must be characterized by humility, purity, accountability, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. And the only way these transformations take place in the life of the CHURCH is if they first occur in the life of the CHRIST-FOLLOWER. Another filter or lens to view this from in our own lives is to ask if the former "old way of living" (competition, independence, retribution) is being replaced by a "new life" (humility, accountability, mercy). Those characteristics don't come to a person "naturally" - they are SUPER-natural! They are the work of the King transforming the hearts of His followers into "new and different people".
I encourage to you take some time, quiet your heart before God, and ask Him if this heart of a Community-Based Disciple is breaking through in your life today. If you ask Him, He will change you!