In the whole of Creation, humanity has a supreme role in revealing God’s Kingdom, because we alone are made in God’s image. His Kingdom is revealed through us in three ways: our relationship to God as Lord, our relationship to each other as God’s children, and our relationship to the rest of creation as stewards. However, since the Fall, humanity has lived in rebellion against God and so this image has not been seen. Now, God has begun to restore mankind through Jesus Christ. This means that the one place where God’s love, power, beauty and purposes are displayed most clearly is among his people, the Church.
This shows us the second part of the Church’s mission: To Make The Kingdom of God Visible.
We see this in the picture of the Church in Revelation 21 and 22, the City of God. Firstly, at the center of the city is the throne of God. God’s people live in right relationship to God, worshipping him as Lord as we were created to do. Secondly, out of this worship flows true fellowship. God’s people live together in one place, under the Kingship of God, showing the peace that God intended for human relationship, (as we discussed last week). Thirdly, we see the beauty and extent of Christ’s reign. The city is jammed full of treasure and the nations of the earth continue to bring in their glory and honour, while all that is evil is left outside of the city. This shows Christ’s gradual dominion over the whole of creation until every tongue in heaven and earth confesses Jesus as Lord and the whole of creation is filled with the glory of God.
We can see that there are things that a local church does together that make the Kingdom of God particularly visible:
- Public worship (or “services”)
- Proclamation of Christ’s Lordship (In evangelism, but also every aspect of life and his creation)
In addition, the way we do these things is particularly important to their visibility:
- Unity with the Church
- Doctrinally we should be one in what we believe with the historical and global Church under the authority of Scripture and in loving humility toward our brethren.
- In our forms (the way we do things) we should be united out of mutual submission to the historical and global Church where possible and harmoniously different where necessary.
- Holiness, the church can emphasis the glory of Christ by doing things in a way that especially emphasises God’s character and power and rejects counterfeits.
- Context, adopt forms of worship, fellowship or proclamation that speak God’s powerfully in their particular context.
- Gifting, each local church is given different gifts in its membership and may be called to serve God differently according to its make up
All this should lead to a harmonious diversity of forms among the local churches that make up the one whole Church of Jesus Christ.