“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'” – Mark 1:14-15
I grew up in a Christian tradition that faithfully preached the repentance of sins, the personal need for someone/something to save us, and the proper mode of living after one has made a decision. The individual prayer, usually deemed as the “sinner’s prayer” (which I blogged about here) is something most people have experienced, whether or not they prayed it. Most people whom have grown up attending church have been part of a service in which the push and ending culmination of the service is the altar call.
“If you’ve prayed this prayer, please lift a hand or raise your head up so I can recognize you and thank God for your decision.” This is typically the mode of welcoming new believers into the family of God. The call is for life change in response to the need for grace for the entrance into heaven when we die.
Repent, pray, and raise a hand. Easy enough.
Yet, why does Jesus say something about God’s kingdom? What is this all about? I’d be willing to bet (because I know from personal experience) that most Christians don’t know much about the kingdom or its importance. Most churches emphasize a personal repentance into a personal relationship with God through Jesus, but what about the communal effects of salvation? What and how does Jesus’ declaration of the kingdom of God being at hand intertwine with repentance? Obviously, personal salvation is a must, but not to the exclusion of kingdom living and thought. Is there something bigger and more extensive that perhaps overemphasizing personal salvation misses out on?
Anyone out there have any thoughts? I’ll write more as we move along.