This series will explore the values that shape missional communities at The Austin Stone. These values are rooted in the gospel and driven by our motivations to love God and love people. In this series, I will explore:
Demonstrating the Kingdom
We’ve covered the why we have values, and a missional community valuing the Word and Prayer together. These values are primarily focused on how we love God (one of the motivations produced by the gospel). Today we turn our attention to values that are oriented around loving people and participating in God’s mission in the world.
Part of having a compelling community that puts into practice the community apologetic is demonstrating the kingdom through obedience to the word of God. Part of me wants to go on a long diatribe on the gospel of Jesus and the gospel of the kingdom, but ink has already sufficiently been spilt on this topic by men far smarter than me (click here for an intro).
But no one argues that Christians – those who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ, adopted into God’s family, and given a new mission to proclaim the good news – should live life differently. The implications of the gospel in our church families submitted to God’s reign is that we live differently than the world. Together, we image the kingly rule of God…we demonstrate the kingdom!
The kingdom is demonstrated tangibly in missional communities in two ways – how the community of Christians tangibly loves one another, and how the community of Christians serves their neighbors through acts of love.
We show the world what the kingdom of God is like when we love one another, serve one another, forgive one another, and care for one another in ways that are fundamentally different than the world. When a member of your community loses a job, you provide for the needs of their family together, you help that person find new work. When someone in your community has a baby, you make sure every need they have is covered for months. When you celebrate birthdays, the whole community joins in the fun and celebrates the faithfulness of God for another year.
In most small group/community circles, the “One Anothers” of Scripture are often referenced as the standard for how we are to do life together. In my community, those who don’t know Jesus are often most confused and compelled by the kinds of relationships that we have. It’s a compelling validation of the gospel message when your community is distinctly different in how they love one another.
Another part of demonstrating the kingdom is tangible acts of service and love, both to your cities and your neighbors. If you’re trying to share the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection with a pocket of people, then we need to understand and address how we can serve them well. We certainly need to engage parts of the city where poverty is overt, brokenness is visible, and pain and suffering are evident (and we do that through the For the City Network). But we also need to think on a distinctly local level – what does it look like to serve my neighborhood?
For my neighborhood, it means coaching soccer, serving on the PTA, and also caring for my neighbors when they are in need. We babysit kids so couples can have a date night, we watch pets when people are out of town. In general, we’re just trying to be good neighbors who meet needs that people have!
When the church of God loves one another and their neighbor well, the kingdom becomes tangible, and the message of the gospel is validated!