Summary: Why doesn’t the church look anything like the Kingdom Jesus spoke about? Here are a few things that need to change.
Dakota Community Church
July 1, 2007
Kingdom of God IV
In A Kingdom Church
This morning I want to continue our series of messages about the differences between the “Kingdom of God” and its citizens and the “Kingdoms of this world” and their citizens. The focus this week will be on the local church. How does this message change the way we do church? Is the modern church doing a good job of living the difference and if not how can we improve?
Over the last few weeks as we have been examining this topic the issue of the Church has come up over and over again. We have noticed that in many ways the modern church is set up very much after the pattern of this world’s kingdoms.
We fight for power rather than serving.
The more “service” oriented a ministry is the harder it is to get volunteers.
We love those who love us and make excuses for the rest.
We build our personal empires ignoring the needy in our midst and giving as little as possible.
Rather than preferring others we fight for our rights and there are thousands who have been wounded beyond belief within the local church setting.
So what needs to change? What New Testament teachings are being trampled by kingdom of this world influence? How should things be different than they are? Where have we gone wrong?
In a “Kingdom” Church:
1. There is no struggling for title and position.
The disciples argued and fought over who would have the highest position of authority in the new kingdom and even though Jesus rebuked them for it repeatedly they never did really catch on. Neither have we!
I have been involved in every level of church government and I can tell you that there is virtually no difference between the church and the world when it comes to getting and keeping titles and positions of authority. From Sunday School or Choir director to General Superintendent the battle royal is often worse that the worlds version.
I have known ministers who would not speak to congregants unless addressed by the proper title (i.e. “Pastor” Dan). What reason could I possibly have for insisting on being addressed as “Pastor” Dan? There is only one – the title allows us both to be reminded of our respective place in the kingdom. Look at what Jesus did and taught on this subject though:
A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone.
"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ’Rabbi.’
"But you are not to be called ’Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ’father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ’teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Why would Jesus make such an issue of this seemingly harmless behavior? What is the big deal if we insist on titles for those in ministry, after all aren’t we supposed to give honor to whom honor is due? Here is the problem – we mess up when we think we are due honor from a fellow servant!
"Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ’Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ’Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ’We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ "
Here is the issue – we want to be treated by the world’s standards. We want to be paid by the same scale as the managers of companies that generate the sort of income that our churches generate. We define the abundant life by the “American Dream” kingdom and we think that a life of service and sacrifice is the opposite of the abundant life – but, Jesus said and demonstrated differently!
Here is a scary thing I see happening in many churches these days – the ministry using the people to payroll their own lavish lifestyles. Look at this warning from the Lord: