COLUMBIA, S.C. (BP)–In the four Gospels, Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God more than anything else. Sometimes He referred to the Kingdom of God as the Kingdom of Heaven or just the Kingdom. A careful study of those statements of Jesus reveals that He was more concerned about the Kingdom of God on this earth than in eternity. In other words, if the peoples of this world become Kingdom people, their inclusion in the heavenly Kingdom will take care of itself!
It is becoming more and more apparent that for generations and even centuries, Christian theologians, teachers, missionaries, denominational leaders, preachers and writers have overlooked or chosen to ignore the instructional statements of Jesus about the Kingdom of God on this earth. That neglect may finally be changing. With increasing persistency, books, articles, sermons and musical pieces are being published on God’s Kingdom. Might it be that in the providence of God, the Kingdom Age is upon us and we are just beginning to discover it?
At St. Louis this past June, Southern Baptists made a decision that may prove to be one of our finest and most far-reaching. At the time, our president, James Merritt, observed that our decision on Empowering Kingdom Growth is as significant for the Southern Baptist Convention as was the decision made back in 1925 at Memphis, Tenn., to launch the Cooperative Program.
Henry Blackaby has taught us how critical it is for believers to pray and determine where God is at work in His world redeeming humanity to Himself and to go join Him in that work. That is the Kingdom of God on this earth. Jesus said that we are to seek first and foremost over any other concern the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:32-33). He also declared that He had come to seek and to save anyone who is not spiritually connected in redemption to God (Luke 19:10). That is Kingdom work and that is our purpose as Christians and as Baptists. It is the heart of God that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Our heart should beat with His if we love Him as we say we do.
In our churches, institutions, associations, state conventions, and Baptist entities, we should be constantly asking, “Are our plans and activities really and truly indicative of authentic Kingdom work, or are we merely enhancing our own statue?” In our individual lives, we should always be seeking to grade ourselves on the question, “Am I a Kingdom person?” In whatever position of leadership we hold, we should look in the mirror and ask of ourselves, “Are my people giving consistent evidence of being Kingdom people?”
Wherever God is at work in this world, there is His Kingdom. When we go where He is and merge our efforts through ministry and evangelism, we are about the business of the Kingdom. There is no end or limit to Kingdom growth. Everything we do should be in line with the teachings of Jesus on the Kingdom of God, or we should stop doing it as Baptists and as Christians.
The results of sinfulness are rampant across the world in these early years of the 21st century. Our only hope and way out of it all is through Christ Jesus and His call to the Kingdom. May we be responsive and obedient!
Driggers is the current co-chair of the SBC’s Empowering Kingdom Growth Task Force and executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.