Series: The Big Questions – What Is the Church?
The Good News and the Kingdom of God
What if churches and Christians were able to bring all kinds of good things to all people? Would this be love?
Most churches have a box over in the corner where they restrain God. All good things the creator might give us are suppressed and the minister stands up and spouts what he wants people to hear … which is what they have already decided they want to hear.
Those who first witnessed Paul and Barnabas preaching and doing miracles decided they must be gods, called them by gods’ names, and wanted to offer sacrifices. Paul rushed and stopped them, saying they were just people like them.
Acts 14: 15: “… bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain (useless or prideful) things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”
Only things that hurt others are bad and out of place in our world, coming from the misconceptions and illusions and greed of people. Everything else was made by God. Working with God we make the world better. Every person has his place in our world: musicians, doctors, researchers, inventors, sanitation workers, story tellers, computer programmers, home builders, accountants, politicians, auto mechanics … yes, whatever it is you do. The people are the church, that is Jesus’ gathering. Yet we try to restrict the “work of the church” to just a few things.
What is the Good News, the Gospel that Jesus sent the twelve apostles to tell us?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 (NASB)
None of the Apostles wrote down exactly what Jesus taught them, so all we can go by is their example. By researching what constitutes the Good News, I came up with the following:
- Peace, goodwill, sins remembered no more. The law is in everyone’s heart (new covenant)
- The Kingdom of God is here, now, and forever, and this is the opinion of many theologians. (we’re no longer separated by doing wrong).
- The Kingdom of God is for everyone who does right.
- Forgiveness of sins, simply ask God (and reconcile with others you’ve hurt)
- Meaningful activity, not useless or vanity.”
What Is the Church: In the Kingdom, and the fullness of the Good News. Then people who love as God loves. Shall we limit love? The function of the organized church is a positive force in people’s lives.
The church is people working together for the good of all. It might be individually or collectively in any human endeavor. It demonstrates the love of God through loving others. We’re supposed to shine to the world, not hide our gifts.
Since the 1950s to the present day I’ve seen people get upset over singing things like Row, Row, Row Your Boat in church. Just people having fun and exuberantly enjoying life as individuals or a congregation. We have all kinds of excuses, such as we’re pandering to modern culture, it’s satanic, it’s not worship, it’s not proper ….
I listen to rock music, especially fast paced dance music. Music content varies, but some within the music community branded rock as about “drugs, sex, and rock and roll.” Some is. But most of it is about love. Artists bring their own experiences into song, both good and bad, for the benefit of us all.
Paul McCartney, who was criticized by some for writing love songs, nailed it with his Wings band when he wrote the lyrics:
“You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs
I look around me and I see it isn’t so
Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs
And what’s wrong with that?
I’d like to know
‘Cause here I go again
I love you, I love you
I love you, I love you”
My music library is full of love songs through ages. Mostly these are of good experiences, mostly of romance, but often songs like Wonder by Natalie Merchant, A World Without Love by Peter and Gordon, Can’t Stop The Feeling! by Justin Timberlake, I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack. Some are protest songs about the futility of endless war such as One Tin Soldier by The Original Caste: 1960s Protest Songs, not that we shouldn’t stand up to evil. Or if you’re up for it, 2020s protest music.
When I listen to upbeat music I feel alive. I even get up and dance just for the joy of it. When I listen to droning in church I feel dead and want to leave. We need joyful music in church. And dance. And other performance art. We need to be alive and celebrate the life we’re given, not some drag put on us by “religion.”
There is a time and place for everything, it’s true, but inside churches people seem persuaded we should spend most of our time being dead in the spirit.
The Kingdom of God
I strongly suspect the Kingdom of God, which is here, now, and forever, is not composed of people who sit around with prune faces, keeping God in a box, criticizing everybody and every activity, and sucking the joy out of life.
The Kingdom includes everyone who does right, or at least tries to. It’s people who are guiltless, forgiven, freely enjoying abundant life and sharing the love with others. It’s people who have gifts and help others – and not because they have to but because they want to. It’s people helping others excel in any human endeavor. If it’s the former (prune faces) rather than the latter then this is the kingdom of the dead and I don’t want to be there and neither do most people in younger generations.
God gives us life and gives it abundantly, but we won’t allow ourselves to understand what that means or to celebrate it and live life to the fullest.
Jesus unleashed the full power of God and love in our lives. He removed the restrictions placed on us by the things we do wrong and the accompanying feeling of guilt that robs us of good relationships and saps our joy and power in this world. Some churches even bang away on the sin and guilt drum to keep people down.
In that box over in the corner of the church God is busting to get out and share an abundant life with people, but churches and people try to keep that box sealed and restrict Jesus’ message to only say what they want said and define love only by the restrictions they want on it.
We shouldn’t look for limits to put on love. We should love others fully.
More about this in the next article.
Article in this series on what is the church, the big questions
The standard of belief and conduct for Christianity is love. God is love. We’re asked to be like God.
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