Jesus put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like….”
For many of us, there is the temptation as Christians to focus almost exclusively on our personal relationship with Jesus. “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion,” is one of the important statements we make as evangelicals. Perhaps we then broaden our understanding to the importance of church. In my recent preaching, in fact, I’ve been doing this as I’ve reminded us of the koinonia—communion, community, partnership with God and each other—re-created in us by the Holy Spirit when we believe in Jesus. Both these understandings are biblically sound and essential, but there’s more….
Matthew recounts the beginning of Jesus’ ministry with these words: “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17). The kingdom of heaven is at hand. When we join our lives to Jesus, not only do we enter into a personal relationship with him, not only do we enter into a relationship with other believers and the Trinity, we also enter into a kingdom movement, partnering with God in answer to the prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Read through the gospels with eyes wide open for kingdom references, and you’ll re-discover that the kingdom of heaven is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching and mission. This means, of course, that the kingdom movement should be at the heart of Immanuel Anglican Church as well—we have a mission that propels us outward into the community where the kingdom of heaven has yet to come. (Which, as a reminder, is why we call our building a Mission Outpost!)
In our Gospel reading this Sunday, Jesus tells five parables in quick succession, providing images describing the kingdom of heaven. I encourage you to read Matthew 13:1-52 before Sunday, asking the Holy Spirit to give you insight into each parable, and asking in particular what they mean for Immanuel. Then let’s come together not only to give our worship to God, but to receive anew his mission to partner with our King Jesus in advancing his kingdom in Prince William County.
Your Pastor in Christ,