Right out of the gate I concede that some readers may not like the use of the term “Kingdom.” In reference to the Kingdom of God, a more accurate term may be “Reign of God.” This term is preferred in some circles. With that acknowledgement, however, I am going to use the term “Kingdom of God” for this post because (a) it reads better than “Reign Leadership” for the title of the blog and (b) it fits better with what I have to say.
What is the primary or dominant motif in of the Gospel, when we read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? The fact that it is the Kingdom of God, over against the Church, or ecclesia, suggest that our primary concern in the matters of leadership AS the Church should be leadership for the Kingdom of God. And that places leadership in and for the Church as a secondary concern. The issues which need to be addressed in the world are not primarily the issues of the Church. The issues where leadership is sorely needed are not the issues of the Church. The Church needs leadership, to be sure; but Kingdom of God issues are different, in nature, gravity and severity, from Church issues.
Kingdom issues are forces or circumstances (societal) or conditions (human) which stand in contrast to the will of God. God wills a world which is characterized by justice, by peace, by harmony. God wills a world where human dignity is prized, not demeaned. God wills a world where there is human freedom and wellness and where nature is protected and conserved.
Leadership for the Kingdom of God necessitates that those who are God’s servants actually serve in humility, not as self-appointed mediators of divine grace to a forsaken world. A “Kingdom leader” is one who sees herself or himself as, first, a part of the world that God loves and, secondly, as a subject of God Who loves and is distinguished from the rest of the world. In other words, as God has purposes that God is pursuing in the world through God’s redemptive actions in human history, leaders are subjects to God, humbly living redeemed lives in which they encounter others who are impacted by the forces of evil and neglect and domination which operate in the world – and sometimes even in the institutions which have been set apart in order to help and/or to “help.”
Jesus uses key words or symbols which point to the nature of Kingdom leadership: leaven; salt; light. And where are these needed? In the world. Leaven is needed in the dough of the world. Salt is required for the taste of the food for humankind. Light dispels darkness, and the source of light should be on a stand (“put it under a bushel? NO. I’m gonna let it shine”). We do not stand above anyone in the world, simply because we have “standing” within a clerical (clergy) order. Indeed, the term clergy generally implies walls and fences, requiring doors or gates. The scattered people of God are already outside, and while hospitality is a gift of Biblical people of God, it is not defined by actions of welcoming, but rather actions of going. More to the point: A STEEPLE CAN BE A KIND OF BUSHEL.
There is but one Crown in the Kingdom or Reign of God.
Through Biblical study and Biblical literacy, we can come to clearer understanding of the relationship and role of the church in society. Yes, we can also gain competency in the tools and roles which are needed in ministry within the Church. But our calling, while it may be to serve within the Church, is rarely to serve exclusively in the Church. Our calling, as creatures of our culture, is to both serve those who are gathered in the Body of Christ AND those who are scattered, whether formal “members”, self-conscious participants, or aliens.
We welcome you to join with us in our educational and missional endeavor, through the Disciples College (www.thedisciplescollege.org) and the Mission for Biblical Literacy (www.biblicalliteracy.org). Also see http://www.transformingthechurch.org for more learning resources and, for courses, visit http://www.biblicaltraining.org/lp/thedisciplescollege
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