And [Jesus] called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.
(Luke 9:1-2, ESV)
I've not thought often enough about what is so clearly here in Jesus' discipling: a key part of my (and our) mission as disciples of Jesus is to explicitly proclaim the kingdom of God.
Sure, I've talked about being part of the kingdom. I've said many times, to other Christians, that our work is to advance the kingdom. But that is not what Jesus is saying here. He is specifically instructing and sending his disciples out to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to heal.
And this is no isolated event. This idea, this preaching aloud, this public proclamation, this making known of the kingdom of God runs thick in Luke-Acts. And the rest of the new testament. And it's also there in the old. Goodness, the idea of advancing the kingdom as followers of God starts right there in Genesis 1:28! So I wonder, when was the last time you explicitly proclaimed the kingdom of God out there in the world? Furthermore, if this is something we must actively proclaim - as commanded by King Jesus! - it seems pretty important we know exactly what the kingdom of God is.
Come at it this way: if I were to sit down with you and you had five minutes, could you proclaim to me the kingdom of God? Would you be able to clearly define? Explain? Attract?
Let me quickly say my goal is not to make you look or feel stupid by asking those questions - I'm not sure how great I'd do with five minutes with an unbeliever. Which is why I'm really excited that this text is what I get to preach this week on my first Sunday back from a sabbatical. Because I don't think many Christians think in these terms, and are clear on how often Jesus, the disciples, and the apostles did exactly what he said to do - go out into the world and proclaim the kingdom of God. And they did so despite how counter-cultural and counter-to-man's-kingdom was the message of the kingdom of God.
My life's goal is to make more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ. And an aspect of how I must do that according to my King is to understand and proclaim his kingdom. So to get this clear, and to help our church family, it is my aim on Sunday to explain exactly what the kingdom of God is, how it is central to the story in the Scriptures, and what it meant to proclaim it - for them, and for us today.
One more thing: you can't approach the proclamation of the kingdom by looking at it as a burden. Or feeling guilty because you really haven't done so all that much in your Christian experience, and now you really should; you know, to be a good little Christian.
The desire to proclaim is birthed from personal experience. It explodes from the soul enraptured with and satisfied by tasting King and Kingdom, and therefore knowing how commendable and exhilarting he and it is. So tomorrow here on the website, I'll be posting about something I read this week that I think is incredibly helpful regarding our motivation to live out this tremendous opportunity to proclaim the kingdom of God.
See you tomorrow.
(This article is something I call "Between Sundays," written primarily with the family at Calvary Community Church in mind, but posted here in the hopes it will bless the wider readership of this website.)