This week we are looking at how to build the Kingdom of God in our relationships with other Christians, whether that is in church or in your small group. How did God intend his children to live and treat each other? Both the old and New Testaments hold clear keys to what this should look like.
What was you childhood dream of when you grew up?
Luke 7:36-50 when a sinful woman anointed Jesus.
Give the group two pieces of small paper each. On one ask them to draw a ‘tear drop’ and on the other an ‘alabaster jar’. Use it as a time of confession. On the tear write a list of sins that you want to confess to God. On the alabaster jar write a list of things that you want to offer up to God as a sacrifice of praise. These could be things that you want to give away or fast from for a while or things that you want to dedicate to God.
You could keep the bits of paper for future reference or throw them away or even burn them as an act of worship. End in prayer.
The second chapter of the book of Daniel tells a great story. Read it and enjoy!
How is that picture expressed today?
The Kingdom of God is anywhere where God is acknowledged as King and where his laws are obeyed. Since the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, it is being ushered in gradually. The Kingdom involves a visible demonstration of radical love and justice, activated by the power of the Holy Spirit. It comprises pockets of people on earth where God’s reign is acknowledged and therefore expressed through their lifestyles. These pockets, or ‘colonies of heaven’ are expanding and will eventually cover the globe.
When the nation of Israel entered the Promised Land, God instructed them to divide up the land according to the size of each tribe and family. This resulted in each family owning a plot of land on which they could build their own house, grow crops and graze animals. God laid down laws about not moving the boundaries of their neighbour’s field and how the widows, orphans and foreigners were to be looked after. God boldly promised that if the Israelites were obedient to these laws, “there would be no poor among you” (Deuteronomy 15:4). What a promise! This was a demonstration of God’s justice and gave rise to the idyllic picture of ‘shalom’ – each man or woman sitting under their own vine, on their own land, in peace. The future kingdom draws on this vision.
Human nature being what it is, this ‘utopia’ was never fully realised. Families lost their land through drought, pests, debt, theft or the death of key breadwinners. But God had fully anticipated these tragedies and instructed that every 50 years, there was to be an effort to restore equality in society through re-distributing the land and wealth. This 50th year was known as the year of Jubilee, where slaves had to be set free, and land and houses bought or otherwise acquired in previous years had to be returned to the original owners of their heirs. Sadly, Israel was never willing to practise this remarkable provision.
Acts 2:42-47. See how the early Christians applied something akin to Jubilee?
What should believers do today? Are we thinking radically?
How can your small group best mimic the early church in spreading the Kingdom of God? This time focus your discussion on your relationships with non-believers. Pray for these things to happen and continue to pray for specific friends.