Chuck Foreman – Teaching / Missions Pastor
Jesus did not enter our world just to teach us how to be good enough so that he could whisk us off to heaven when we die. He came to bring heaven to earth—to inaugurate the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. That’s why he taught us to pray, “…your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) He taught us a different way to be the People of God on earth, regardless and often in spite of our national identity. He needs no nation’s own sovereignty to be sovereign himself and to accomplish his purposes for our world or to establish his kingdom in it. This very thought was inconceivable to Jesus’ contemporary countrymen.
When he challenged all the pieces of Jewish religious practice, the things that made them distinct from all the pagans around them and especially those who occupied their land, it brought him into sharp conflict with his own people. “If Israel ceases to beIsrael, by remaining distinct from the pagans in the way we eat, how we worship and keeping the temple central to our culture, then the Kingdom of Heaven cannot come,” so they thought. But Jesus taught a new way to be the People of God—the way of mercy and compassion, not judgement; the way of peace and forgiveness, not retaliation; the way of servanthood and sacrifice, not power and authority. These are the symbols of Jesus’ new kingdom, the things that mark us as the People of God. We are distinct in our love, not in our prohibitions and rules. We are distinct in our inclusivity and the vast breadth of our new community in Christ, not in our exclusivity or narrowness.