Recently I asked some small groups to think about the Kingdom of God and the church, which led them to do a classic 'compare and contrast' exercuse. I'm pleased to discover in their feedback that they seem to have 'got it'!
For in the Kingdom the focus is unashamedly on Jesus, whilst in the church that is not always so.
The Kingdom is inherently spiritual, while the church is inherently an earth-based gathering (albeit one that hopefully intends to be a spiritual people).
The Kingdom is perfect (by definition). The church remains imperfect.
The Kingdom is wherever God is at work, seen through what God is doing, or glimpsed in the people where God is present. The church can too easily be focussed on one place, one set of practices, or one set of traditions.
The Kingdom is of God. It is aligned to His will. The church can easily be of people and influenced by their will.
The Kingdom is about the Living Word (Jesus). The church can entrap itself in its own incomplete understanding of the written word (the Bible).
The Kingdom somehow has a way in for those on the margins. The church can inadvertently exclude those on the margins.
The Kingdom focusses on the key issues for God and His relationship to the whole of creation. The church can end up focussing on the key issues of society without discerning the limitations of this endeavour.
So Kingdom or church ... which would you choose?
Join a church and love it - but remind yourself and your fellow church members to keep your sights on The Kingdom!