How Should we view the church and the kingdom of God?
Jeremy Treat | APRIL 25, 2019 | 2 MIN READ | 4 MIN WATCH
Note from SOLA: This video was recorded during The SOLA Conference 2019. Below is a transcript of the video. It has been lightly edited for readability.
A lot of people see conviction and being relevant to the community as being in opposition, as if you have to give one to have the other. But I don't think that's the case at all. A lot of the times it comes from a wrong understanding of what contextualizing really is.
A lot of people think that you've got to adapt the gospel to reach people where they’re at. And so they change the message to tell people what they want to hear. But I always tell people that there's a big difference between adapting the gospel and contextualizing the gospel.
Adapting the gospel is telling people what they want to hear. Contextualizing the gospel is telling people what they need to hear in a way that they can understand it.
And what people ultimately need, what they really want and long for deep down inside, is the good news of God's grace — that God loves them, that he sent his son for them, that he has a great plan for them, and that he has called them to himself. So we have to be able to communicate that in a way that people understand. But that doesn't require softening the message. We need to be able to give the diagnosis of sin in order to point to the remedy of God's grace.
So many people are turned off from the church because of the actions of Christians. And I understand that people have wounds with the church and people have misconceptions about the church because of the behavior of people who call themselves Christians. But the Gospel doesn't need to be updated. It needs to be proclaimed.
I care so much about the theme of the kingdom of God because it was the number one thing that Jesus talked about. Throughout his ministry, Jesus was always talking about the kingdom of God, telling stories about the kingdom, giving analogies about the kingdom, ultimately calling people to the kingdom.
He did so not just because it's another thing that he wanted his disciples to know. It's THE thing that gives a framework for everything.
I grew up in a tradition where we didn't talk about the kingdom of God much, and as I looked through the Scriptures, it gave me a whole new framework for understanding who God is and what he's called us into, into his mission. And so I define the kingdom of God as God’s reign through God's people over God's creation.
God is a powerful King but he reigns with self-giving love. And he reigns through his people. He reconciles us by grace and then he reigns through us over all of his creation. The Bible is a story that begins in creation ends in New Creation and in the middle is King Jesus making all things new.
The kingdom gives us a story to live by in a framework through which to see the world. And everybody's looking for a story, right? We love stories that we see throughout the day, whether it's in a movie or in song or in a book that we read. But the kingdom is that master narrative that brings clarity and coherence to our lives. That gives a framework of the way that we see the world so that it's not just that I have all these little beliefs here and there that are disconnected. The kingdom make sense of it all.
And it does. It gives us a comprehensive way of understanding what it means to follow Jesus. The gospel is not just a ticket to heaven. It's a power for life today and it transforms all of life not just our spirituality but our Mind Body Soul relationships work sexuality — all of it is under the reign of God.
Jeremy Treat currently serves as the Pastor for Preaching & Vision at Reality LA. He, his wife, Tiffany, and their four daughters currently reside in Los Feliz. Jeremy was a speaker at the 2019 SOLA Conference.