I have been writing about the Kingdom of God – the main message of Jesus. The Kingdom is the new reality that Jesus inaugurated, and this reality changes our lives! We are looking at six characteristics of the Kingdom of God, based on the life and teaching of Jesus. These six characteristics are grouped into three categories:
A New Reality – The King Is with Us
- The Kingdom is first about the King. The King has come and inaugurated the new Kingdom reality.
- The Kingdom is where God’s will reigns (righteousness).
The Community of the Kingdom
- The Kingdom is a community of faith, defined around relationship with the Father.
- In the Kingdom, people give generously out of God’s abundant love.
The Mission of the King
- The community of the Kingdom joins the mission of the King.
- The Kingdom includes God’s good judgment over injustice and selfishness.
This week we will be looking at #3: The Kingdom is a community of faith, defined around relationship with the Father.
Jesus invited His followers into a new community where each one has a new relationship with the Father. The Kingdom prayer is “our Father” (Mt.6:10; Lk.11:12; cf.Jn.20:17). The Kingdom is the Father’s Kingdom (e.g.Mt.26:29; Mk.14:25; cf.Mt.5:35). The new relationship with the Father changes every relationship in a disciple’s life. Disciples see themselves humbly and dependent on the Father (Mt.18:1-4; Mk.10:15; Lk.18:16-17), and also blessed even if they are poor and outcasts (Mt.5:3; Lk.6:20). This blessing allows one to let go of envy (see Mt.20:1ff; cf.Mk.15:9; also see Mt.6:26ff; Lk.12:24ff). In fact, to serve the least of the brothers and sisters of Christ is to serve the King (Mt.25:34). Jesus identifies with and lives in His community.
The relationship with the Father is a gift. People are invited, and are chosen by God (Mt.22:2; cf.Lk.14:15). Christ has come, and given the truth of the Kingdom (Mt.13:11; Mk.4:11; Lk.8:10). Jesus told Nicodemus that no one could enter the Kingdom without being born of Spirit and water, without being born from above (Jn.3:3, 5). The Father chooses who is in His Kingdom – even the harlots and tax collectors entered before the hard-hearted religious leaders (Mt.21:31). Jesus in His table fellowship lived out the new relationship with the Father that was available in the Kingdom of God.
The children of the Kingdom define their relationships around the Father; they have been forgiven, so they forgive others (Mt.6:12; Lk.11:4), knowing that the mercy and forgiveness they have received from the Father need to be passed on to others, and ourselves (Mt.18:23). The new relationship that disciples have with the Father, in community, gives them divine power to live out God’s will.
Community is so important. Most people know that. But too often we don’t realize that what Jesus created was a community that was centered on God and focused on living out His will – because that is the only way to joy and freedom. The community is not the goal; God is the goal. The purpose of community is to live out God’s love together and to help each other get closer to Christ. We need to encourage and support each other through the storms, and we need to challenge each other to live for the King. This is the community of the Kingdom, and God uses this community to change people’s lives and draw them close to Himself.
It is so important that we are a regular part of a community of faith. This is the life to which God has us, and this is the way He grows us closer to Christ.
Other posts in this series:
 The Father is the King, and Jesus is the King – with the full authority of the Father. Jesus lived out the will of the Father perfectly. NT Wright comments that the people of God are reconstituted around the person of Jesus. Jesus Himself made this distinction (Jesus, 274, 300, 473).
 Table Fellowship is an act that shows the promises of God were being fulfilled – the Kingdom had come in power. Scot McKnight, A New Vision, 118. The parables in Luke 15 about God searching for the lost belongs in this theme, though “Kingdom” verbiage is not used in that chapter.