Whose Kingdom – God’s or mine?
By Matt Cairns
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a church in San Francisco known for its ministry to the marginalised. As I lined up to enter the sanctuary, a line of around 100 homeless men and women were entering another part of the building for their Sunday breakfast and shower. As the church service began, I was struck by the diversity of those praising God – men, women, children, obviously rich and obviously poor, people of all nationalities and races, those who could sing and those who couldn’t! And as we continued to sing, hug, and worship God, many of those homeless who had lined up for a meal joined the chorus of praise lifted up to God. As I observed this disparate bunch of people, I had an undeniable sense that I was experiencing the Kingdom of God right here and now.
Often we unconsciously pick who is in or out of God’s Kingdom, but that Sunday reminded me that my role is not to choose who is worthy. Rather, I am called to simply be Christ’s ambassador in God’s ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:11-21). We pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven and that his would Kingdom come. God’s will – His Kingdom – not my own. My role is to be an ambassador of the good news to all, regardless of my own preferences or comforts, and sometimes that means hugging a homeless person or allowing the poor into my personal space.
My experience that Sunday has led me to some tough questions – Is my attitude to ministry championing God’s Kingdom or my own kingdom? Am I an ambassador of the Gospel or am I choosing who is worthy of God’s Kingdom because of my own agenda?
“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (NIV)
Questions to consider:
- What is your understanding of The Kingdom of God? Are there ways in which your own prejudices, preferences or worldview have influenced this?
- How can you be Christ’s ambassador in God’s ministry of reconciliation?
- In what ways can your faith community be an ambassador of God’s ministry of reconciliation?