So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:8)
One day, the Pharisees ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God is coming. Now, Jesus knows they’re expecting a military kingdom, complete with a powerful army, the defeat of the Romans, and a king from God to lead them, so He responds by correcting their misplaced expectations. According to Him, the Kingdom isn’t coming visibly and extravagantly; as a matter of fact, it’s already here, right in their midst! Without skipping a beat, Jesus turns to His disciples and warns them that in His absence, they shouldn’t be fooled by false reports of the Kingdom; when He returns, the Kingdom will come in full effect, and it will be unmistakable.
How could Jesus say that the Kingdom is here and now, and yet still to come later? If it’s true that His Kingdom will come in glory and power at His second coming, how is it here already? The Kingdom is present now because, when we give our lives to Jesus and declare Him our Lord and Savior, we experience the rule and reign of God over our lives! Wherever the King is, the Kingdom is there as well. Since King Jesus now dwells in the hearts of His followers by His Spirit living in us, that’s where the Kingdom is; He sits on the very throne of our hearts! Soon, He will return from Heaven and set up His literal Kingdom on Earth, ruling from the throne of David in glory over the whole world (Luke 1:32-33). Until then, He’s building up His Kingdom, calling people to repent, to place their faith in Him as the Son of God, and to make Him the King of their lives.
So what does this mean for us as ambassadors and witnesses of the Gospel? Once again, 1 Thessalonians gives us the answer. When Paul came to Thessalonica, he loved the people there dearly, and formed a powerful bond with them; they treated him like a son, and he was like their father! Paul didn’t just share the Gospel with them, he shared his own self, his life, with them as well! Here’s where it all comes together: If the Gospel is the Good News that the Kingdom of God has come through Jesus Christ, and His Kingdom is His rule over our lives, then sharing the Gospel means not just imparting the truth of the Bible, it means building loving relationships; it means sharing our own lives with people as well. That’s how we fully reveal the hidden Kingdom of God.
- The essence of leadership in Christ isn’t power, influence, or cunning persuasion, it’s sharing our lives with people, intentionally building loving relationships of service and intimacy. If we’re declaring the Good News of God’s Kingdom, and that Kingdom is His rule over our hearts and minds (our lives), then it’s not just about teaching Scripture, it’s about developing strong bonds with those we come across, serving them and doing life with them as a family.