Had you been a contemporary of Jesus – in 1st Century Israel – you could have been a groupie, following Him from live event to live event… but you would have heard the same message over-and-over again. His teaching ministry had a sole focus. He knew His audience: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24). And, He knew his topic: “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” (Matthew 4:23). He came to talk with Jews about His Kingdom.
I take my lead from Him: I know my audience – Christian men and women who have potential for high-impact leadership – and I know my topic – same as Jesus, it’s the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The Gospel of Salvation presents the choice between Heaven and Hell, and calls for a response: “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection are the key elements of the Gospel of Salvation; embracing those truths gains Heaven as a gift of grace.
The Gospel of the Kingdom comes next. Once the promise of citizenship in Heaven is yours through faith… what comes next? If your salvation is secured and assured… is life just a waiting-game while we wait for mortal life to pass and Heaven’s gate to welcome us?
Jesus’ message – during His brief earthly ministry – presented the next compelling revelation: “Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19).
Hear this clearly: the ultimate planned community – the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, which will stretch into Eternity future – has neighborhoods that house the redeemed population in clusters that run from minimal to mansion; on a daily basis, people from all of those villages will head into their ongoing roles that range from low to high-level status.
Heaven is real; the Kingdom is tangible; life then will look like life now: with sin and all of its effects removed. Within that righteous future, each of us will find our place; a position earned through the faith-defined life that emerged from taking Jesus’ messaging seriously, and acting as if our personal Kingdom future depended on it.
Paul’s caution to Timothy – his protégé, now serving as the pastor of the church in Ephesus – was gritty but precise: “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21). Before the era of indoor plumbing, potable water and waste water came-and-went in containers. Both would find use; one was far more desirable than the other.
In God’s eternal Kingdom: do you want to be great, or least? The choice is yours. LifeMastery is our clever term for intentional preparation for the gold-and-silver assignments in God’s space: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1). “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27) “so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” (Colossians 1:10). “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling…” (2 Thessalonians 1:11).
My confession: this Gospel of the Kingdom message is all you’ll hear from me… and, there’s more to say. Watch for the next installment, next week…