We sometimes have a hard time coming up with a one-sentence definition of important concepts. Take "church," for example. In Ph.D. orals I will sometimes ask the student for a one-sentence definition of this vital New Testament term, and they struggle to do so. Usually they say something like, "The church is a group of believers who have gathered to listen to the Word of God preached and observe the sacraments/ordinances." All well and good. But that's not what the church is at its core.
Or take the term "kingdom." Jesus announced that the kingdom of God was at hand. The kingdom was central to Jesus' teaching. I wonder, if I asked you to define it, how you would reply. In Romans, Paul uses the term only once:
The kingdom of God is not food or drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
That's what you and I stepped into when we received Jesus Christ. So if we were asked to define the kingdom of God, we would say that it is the rule of God through his annointed King Jesus in the lives of his subjects. It is a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. This is what Jesus meant when he said that he came "preaching the kingdom of God."
And what is the church? In one sentence? The church is the living presence of Christ in the world through his followers. This means that the purpose of the church is to make Christ's presence in the world both real and tangible.
So there you have it -- two very simple definitions you can use any time:
- The kingdom is the rule of God through his anointed King Jesus in the lives of his subjects.
- The church is the living presence of Christ in the world through his community of followers.
The next time you read "Jesus Christ" in your New Testament, think: Jesus the King. And when you see "Christ Jesus," think King Jesus. He is the Head of his body, the church, and therefore in ALL things (even our titles) he is to have the preeminence.
P.S. Tonight's sunset. Glory to the Creator, King Jesus!