Whose kingdom are you building?
This question was posed to me a few years ago, and it was one of the most challenging questions I’ve ever been asked.
In this week’s passage, Paul appeals to the church at Corinth to drop their loyalties to church leaders and be unified by Christ alone. They were divided because they were paying homage and forming tribes based on human leadership, rather than the Gospel itself. They were boasting and fighting over who had been baptized by whom!
Then Paul explains why he chose to baptize only a few – because he didn’t want to take the focus away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ or give them an opportunity to align with him above Christ.
Paul isn’t downplaying the need for baptism here, but rather the way the focus has shifted from the Gospel to people. He’s frustrated because the Corinthian Christians have lost sight of the main thing, and their focus has shifted from building God’s kingdom to building their own, or building those of Apollos or Cephas!
Oh how easy it is to lose sight of the kingdom of God and build our own kingdoms…to hold what we’ve been given with white-knuckled fists and attempt to construct a life we deem acceptable by our own standards or those of the world around us.
How easy it is to lose sight of the kingdom of God and build the kingdom of those we follow – political leaders, celebrities, or even pastors…to devote ourselves to their causes and passions…to make secondary things the main thing.
It happens all the time in the church today. And it still causes division.
Paul is interested in one thing – preaching the Gospel, not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
At The Bridge, we often use the phrase, “Let’s make much of Jesus.” This is Paul’s plea to the church in Corinth.
He was interested in building the kingdom of God on earth – the upside-down kingdom of God, where the weak are made strong, the last made first, and the intelligent frustrated by that which seems foolish to them – a kingdom marked by righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit which cannot be shaken.
When we seek this kingdom – launched, deployed, and transformed by Jesus – we taste the goodness and faithfulness of God. We experience life as He intended. It’s not always easy, and it often requires great sacrifice, but it leads to life. And the unity we experience when we’re all serving Christ alone and building His kingdom shows the world the glory of the Gospel.
So, friends, let’s make much of Jesus.