This weekend at Westbrook, we spent some time in Acts 8, 10, & 11. These three chapters find Philip and Peter welcoming Gentiles into the family of God. There was some struggle after Peter went to Cornelius, but Gentiles soon became accepted in the Church. Yes, Peter had still had some struggles after Acts 10-11 (see Galatians 2:11-21), but the church as a whole became a welcoming place to Gentiles. Not only were Gentiles welcomed into the church, but it was a place where men, women, young, old, rich, poor, slave, and free all gathered in the first couple of centuries to worship God and participate in the life of the Kingdom.
When I reflect on what the church used to look like and what it predominately looks like now in America, I can’t help but wonder if the church has failed to be like the church in the First Century. In A Fellowship of Differents Scot McKnight writes, “We’ve made the church into the American dream for our own ethnic group with the same set of convictions about next to everything. No one else feels welcome. What Jesus and the apostles taught was that you were welcomed because the church welcomed all to the table.”  We’ve let the church become separated. Continue reading
The kingdom of God is a pretty big deal.
In Jesus’ first recorded sermon he said that, “the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”  When his disciples asked him how to pray, he instructed them to pray, “Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come…”  And right before he leaves, the disciples ask, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 
The Kingdom was and still is a big deal. So what is it? Continue reading
What is the Kingdom of God?
As Scot McKnight explains, there are basically two schools of thought. One says that doing “kingdom work” is all about doing good works and bringing social justice. The other says the kingdom is all about the redemptive work about God. In his new book Kingdom Conspiracy, McKnight describes a third way for understanding the Kingdom of God. That way is through the church. Essentially he writes that the Kingdom and the Church are one in the same. When you talk about the kingdom of God on earth you are talking about the church. There are many out there who would cringe at this thought. I used to be one of them. Just the word kingdom seems so much more grand than the church. As McKnight points out though, kingdom seems so much better because we look to the end of the world to define the kingdom and we look to the here and now to define the church. In this light the church looks bad and the kingdom looks great. In reality, Jesus is already king and his people are the church. Continue reading