Jesus stands before his disciples and with direct clarity and earthiness describes the movement of the kingdom of heaven: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

As yeast moves throughout the dough, saturating all of it, so too does the kingdom of heaven establish itself throughout our world, influencing all of it. The evidence of the kingdom is to be seen in all and through all.

Not confined or restricted; instead, saturating all things.

All things really does mean all things; it means all nations, all cities, all towns, all communities, all streets, all homes, all offices, all stories, all schools, all universities, all coffee houses, all policies, all art, all relationships – all things.

The kingdom’s movement is powerful enough and expansive enough to saturate all things – its scope and vision is that broad.

The apostle Paul, in writing to the church in Philippi, tells them that their citizenship through Christ is found in heaven. Even as we live and breathe as citizens of nations and states on earth, we find our true identity as citizens of the kingdom, which is establishing the culture, the renewal and the possibilities of heaven on earth, even now.

The vision of the kingdom is the renewal and restoration of all things; God’s sovereign and loving reign and rule revealed in all and through all.

We are citizens of that kingdom.

However, I’m left with a question that I can’t seem to shake: does our vision line up with our identity, our kingdom citizenship?

Jesus commissioned his bride, the Church, to be an agent of the kingdom – following his life in heralding the kingdom’s nearness and partnering with him in seeing his renewal spreading throughout the world, its nations, societies and cultures.

The vision of the Church must line up with the vision of the Kingdom.

Yet at times, if we’re honest with ourselves, our vision as the bride of Christ has not lined up with our identity as citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Our vision has at times been so narrow.

That needs to change.

The scope of the kingdom’s vision has never changed; it’s heart for the whole remains resolute. Yet, when the scope of the Church’s vision and its ministry remains solely within the confines of the sanctuary, something is desperately amiss. We are to be agents of a kingdom that has a vision for the whole of society.

When the scope of the Church’s vision and its ministry only extends as far as its weekly programs, our view of our calling is left narrow and restricted. We are to be agents of a kingdom in which God has scattered people throughout communities, throughout spheres, calling on them to spread the influence of the kingdom where they are – not solely within the four walls of the church building.

It’s worth noting that I’m not knocking Church, or even church programs – far from it. I’m deeply passionate about Christ’s bride and many of its initiatives do an incredible kingdom work. We must always remember however that the Church acts for the building of the kingdom, which in turn exists for the glory of the King and for the sake of the world.

The Church must exist with a broad vision, a vision that lines up the heart of the kingdom.

A vision for society and not just the sanctuary.

A vision for people beyond programs.

We, the Church, must be a people defined by equipping and releasing: equipping our people with a kingdom heart and vision and releasing them into all of society as we see the Kingdom built in all and through all.

Kingdom ministry is not solely for the pastors, preachers, planters, Bible college students or church ministry volunteers. Kingdom ministry is for all members of the bride of Christ – teachers, doctors, shop assistants, stay at home mums, businessmen, activists, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, physiotherapists, lawyers, politicians, pastors, preachers, planters, Bible college students and church ministry volunteers.

We all get to play – in all the places and spaces we inhabit.

As the leavening agent of yeast spreads throughout the entire dough, so too must we the Church, the agent of the kingdom have a broad vision that lines up with the scope of heaven…

The renewal of all things. Not just some things.

We’re delighted to be joining heading back CATALYST (24 – 26 June) this year where Stu will be contributing. Head this way to find out more about it. 

Written by Stu Bothwell // Follow Stu on  Twitter

Stuart is married to Emma. Together, they live in East Belfast and are passionate about seeking the flourishing of the city. Stuart has recently joined the team at EA and helps co-ordinate threads. There’s little Stuart loves more than sharing meals with friends both old and new.

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