That was the challenge levelled at historian Tom Holland on The...
What is our role in the Kingdom of God?
Here’s something that can be awkward for some of us. In terms of our relationship with God it’s the difference between knowing about Him and knowing Him. The first is our inherited Greek inclination that delights in engaging our mind in examining and analysing Him but keeps Him distant from our heart. We have made a commitment, we’ve filled in the papers and joined up but we have an arrangement rather than a relationship. The second, the Hebraic inclination, focuses on relationship and engagement, leading to intimacy, as with a husband and wife. To some this is both natural and necessary, but to many of us it is a work-in-progress and runs counter to our usual way of doing things. I confess that I am in this latter category, yet I have spent my whole Christian life observing those who have this deep intimate relationship with the Lord and wondering whether this is just an aspect of their personality … or the normal Christian life.
The place to go in this journey of discovery is, of course, the ever-dependable Scriptures. The first question to ask is this; what really is our role in the Kingdom of God? The second question is this; how does God facilitate this role?
The Kingdom of God is what Jesus came to proclaim. He made that quite clear from the off:
Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15)
His role in this Kingdom was quite clear.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18-19)
But what about us? Are we called to point people to Jesus, in the sense of providing them with a map to find him themselves, or are we called to demonstrate him? After all, we have spoken about our grand purpose already.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29)
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you. (Galatians 4:19)
… until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
Shouldn’t people be seeing Jesus in us? This doesn’t mean that we have become a substitute for him, or God Himself, because that would be blasphemy. Jesus came not only to demonstrate the Kingdom but, above all, to provide a way, through his death and resurrection, for us to be able to become citizens. That is a unique role, this is the ultimate sacrifice that only God could have made, but there still needs to be clear understanding as to what being conformed to his image actually means.
More next week …
This is an extract from the book, Livin’ the Life, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/livin-the-life-151-p.asp