Summary: Christ-followers are called to be more than good church-goers; we're to be kingdom disciples.
Today, we’re starting of series on kingdom living. Our goal is to stimulate a kingdom vision that will enable us, as a church, to dream, think, and move beyond the church-box paradigm. Christ calls us to be more than good church-goers; He calls us to be kingdom disciples.
In the four Gospels, we find that while Jesus mentions the church three times, He mentions the kingdom over 80 times. The church and the kingdom are connected, but there’s a difference between the two. And it’s important for us to understand how the church and the kingdom are related. The relationship, simply stated, is this: The Kingdom refers to God’s rule and reign; and the church exists to demonstrate what life is like lived under that rule and reign.
Too many believers practice “churchianity” rather than Christianity. While Christ calls us to be committed to His church, the reason for this is so that we might become a kingdom people, not just a church people!
Church people – can’t see past church-bound categories for ministry (i.e., usher, greeter, children’s worker, inviter-of-lost-friends, etc.).
Kingdom people – have Kingdom vision to think/dream/act/serve in the neighborhood, workplace, and community.
Church people – see the Gospel in terms of good news about the afterlife (you can know you’re going to heaven after you die).
Kingdom people – see the Gospel in terms of good news about Kingdom life (it’s about life with God, both now and forever).
Church people – understand discipleship as growing in personal knowledge of God’s Word.
Kingdom people – understand discipleship as growing in personal knowledge of God through His Word.
According to our passage, Jesus calls us to kingdom discipleship - not to be a church people, but a kingdom people.
“‘Have you understood all these things [in the lessons of the parables]?’ They said to Jesus, ‘Yes.’ He said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things that are new and fresh and things that are old and familiar.’” - Matthew 13:51-52 (Amplified)
What is kingdom discipleship? A kingdom disciple . . .
1. Understands the nature of the Kingdom.
Jesus had just shared a set of parables we call the “kingdom parables,” because they illustrate principles related to the kingdom. Afterwards, He asked His disciples “Have you understood all these things?” and they answered, “Yes.” Ray Steadman, says that Jesus then basically tells His disciples: “You are scribes who have been trained for the kingdom of heaven.” He explains the meaning for us today this way:
It’s the business of Christians to understand life. That’s what Jesus is saying. Scribes being trained for the kingdom of heaven, are being trained to see what God is doing. The kingdom of heaven is God at work in the affairs of men, and they’re being told how to perceive what He’s doing and understand it. It’s the business of Christians to learn how to live, and handle life rightly. We’re here to learn to live realistically and with increasing success, to learn how to cope with life and handle its problems. In doing so, we are to understand the process by which this takes place.
I find so many people who think becoming a Christian is just a way to get to heaven. Thank God, it does include that. That’s a fringe benefit you receive as a Christian, and there’s a great future ahead. But that is not why God has called you now to be a Christian. Or, if it is, that is not why he has left you here. He’s left you to learn how to live, to learn how to be healed, to have the same struggles and the same problems as men and women who are not Christians but to learn how to solve them. When non-Christians look at our lives, they ought to see healing taking place. They ought to see the problems being solved. That’s what gives them confidence to believe the message we preach is a genuine message, a message of reality and truth.
A kingdom disciple, by the leading of God’s Spirit and application of God’s Word, is learning how to walk with God in the reality of daily life, growing in wisdom as to how God guides and works and provides.
2. Seeks to represent the Kingdom.
Jesus tells us that a kingdom disciple is one who is able to bring forth new treasures along with the old. What does this mean?
“The special revelation of Jesus allows His people to see kingdom truths that have been there since the foundation of the world, but which have largely gone unnoticed (vs. 34–35).” - R. C. Sproul
“Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.’” - Matthew 13:34-35 (NIV)