What if Jesus really meant it when He said He has given us power and authority to “preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick?” (Luke 9:2). What if, instead of sitting in our A/C gymatoriums and padded seats, we actually “went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere? (Luke 9:6). What if we actually believed (and practiced) that ALL the spiritual gifts were still alive and active? How would the structures, budgets, and programs of our churches be different if Jesus actually meant for us to preach His kingdom and heal people? And by healing, not only do I mean spiritual healing but physical and emotional healing as well?
Sometimes I wonder if, in our churches, we are doing everything except what Jesus commanded us to do?
Could this be why the church in North America is on the decline?
Could this be why we have lost our moral authority? Could this be why unbelievers, agnostics, and atheists mock us instead of flock to us?
I decided years ago to question everything I was taught about church, especially church growth and to start reading the Scriptures for what was important to God and mandated to the church.
Here is what I have decided: The kingdom of God is the gospel and the gospel is the kingdom of God, the two cannot be separated. The gospel–the kingdom of God–is about…
- preaching good news to the poor (those who are literally poor as well as those who are spiritually poor, Luke 4:18)
- proclaiming freedom for the prisoners (those who are physically incarcerated as well as those who are spiritually incarcerated, Luke 4:18)
- giving blind people their sight back (real, physical healings and real emotional healings, as well as spiritual healings, Luke 4:18)
- releasing the oppressed (mainly demonic oppression and possession, Luke 4:18)
- proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor (future salvation, the kingdom of God is both now and not yet, Luke 4:19)
- feeding the hungry and giving them something to drink (physical hunger and thirst, Matthew 25:35)
- not only welcoming the stranger but inviting the stranger in (without first asking to see their green card, Matthew 25:35)
- clothing those who have no clothes (self-explanatory, Matthew 25:36)
- ministering to people who are sick and in prison (self-explanatory, Matthew 25:36).
Those are the things our churches are to be doing. This is where our resources are to be spent. It is for this reason Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
What is it we are doing in our churches that is really, truly, tangibly, bringing God’s kingdom into the realm of lost humanity?
What if Jesus really meant it when He told us to preach the kingdom and heal people?
(Disclaimer, I wrote this at 1:00am and did not take the time to edit it for grammatical/spelling errors. I will correct it after a good night’s sleep. That’s the cool thing about blogging. You can always change what you said.)