Seth, I want to hear more about this Joe Smith, I really like this concept of “Kingdom Christianity”
What did Jesus mean when he talked about the kingdom? (part 2)
I’m still down here in Vero Beach speaking to the people at COI about things like, “what is discipleship?” and “what did Jesus mean when he talked about the kingdom?” Next is a trip to Indiana to see my son Seth graduate. So here are a few more thoughts on the kingdom:
If the people of Jesus’ day struggled with this concept of
the kingdom, then we continue to struggle today. A typical misunderstanding we humans make is
that we can find ourselves equating the local church with the kingdom of God.
So, we can sometimes take this great overarching concept whose value in
personal terms is like a treasure, or a pearl, a kingdom that has the pervasive
impact of yeast, one that starts small and insignificant like a seed, yet which
keeps growing until it is a tree; we can take this amazing spiritual reality and anthropomorphize
it, reducing this big buffet of a concept down to a thin gruel.
Sometimes pastors in churches I’ve attended have used the
Old Testament concept of the “storehouse” to explain the ten percent tithe,
like it’s a system, (in the worst cases, a system primarily for paying pastoral
salaries). But the only “system” we’re
given in the New Testament is the example of the believers in Acts 2:44-45
where “they sold their possessions and goods and gave to anyone as he had
need.” They inaugurated a new covenant
where the priesthood included every believer.
Jesus takes the storehouse concept and stands it on its
head, saying that pastor-teachers who have been taught about the kingdom of heaven are
like owners of a house who bring out of their storehouse new treasures as well
as old. (Matt. 13:52)
Every now and then you’ll see a group of believers
experiment with this spiritual dynamite.
Joe Smith of Valdosta,
started a fellowship where the members do this.
There’s no one pastor and no 10% tithe.
But every time they see a need, the believers pool their funds and meet
Jesus was a radical.
His gospel was a radical one. His
followers were radical. Being a kingdom
“Christian” is a radical business – we look foolish to the world.
Seth, while I resonate deeply with the idea that churches miss the boat when they teach a tithe as a system of paying for the extravagance of the church, I think there is more to supporting the Body of Christ than just what you are saying. I, too, have been in churches where they would love it if everyone would just give ten percent and have taught (wrongly) as if that is the measure of obedience.
Earlier in Acts 2 (42) it says that the believers got together to devote themselves to the apostles teaching. The apostles set themselves up to pray, teach and take care of the affairs of the new testament church. I think that there is some precedence for pastors doing the same thing.
The new testament speaks in other places about supporting the people who have given their lives to full time service. Like in 1 Corinthians 9, where Paul talks about the worker of the gospel having the right to the proceeds of the gospel (14).
I have always felt that, even though we are a new covenant that started in what we call the new testament, the old testament is endorsed and supported by the new. I don’t think the teachings of Paul and Peter undo anything in the OT but rather clarify and make it more clear.
Please forgive me if I overstepped my commenting status. I just felt like this post made me ask more questions. That, of course, was probably your intention. So I hope you don’t mind me throwing my own process of thought out there.
We’ve heard much such teaching in the last few years, and we’ve been freed up from the traditional teaching of giving the tithe to the local church and anything other than that iis offerings.Our giving has moved into CHEERFUL giving as we see some in real need or a ministry that we know is advancing the KINGDOM. It’s not ideal yet, as we’d love to do this in community. Many in the church still think you just aren’t getting the basics if you fail to do it the way everyone has accepted.
Seth, could you say a little more about the Matthew 12:52 verse?
Oops. I meant Mathew 13:52.
“..we can find ourselves equating the local church with the kingdom.” Precisely Seth. Read it again saints: unless you are born again, you can neither see nor enter the KINGDOM. He didn’t say ‘Church.’ There’s a huge difference. It’s easy to see and enter a church. The kingdom He so plainly speaks of was, is and shall be it pre-exists. It was the “Church” that Jesus said He would build, referring to us as sons and daughters of the Kingdom. The implications of “Thy KINGDOM come” is far greater than the advent of the Church, glorious as She may be. Then take it a quantum leap further: the Kingdom resides with its King, not the other way around! Think about THAT!