Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from the Bible study Kingdom Agenda: Living Life God’s Way by Tony Evans.
One purpose of the church is to legislate the values of God’s kingdom. By legislate I don’t necessary mean that it’s our function to create laws in society. Instead, I simply mean that the church is called to make things happen in God’s kingdom. We’re not just passive reflections of God’s goodness; we also take an active role in carrying out God’s kingdom agenda.
Look at Matthew 16:18, where Jesus first used the word church:
"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it" (Matthew 16:18).
The Greek word translated church is ekklesia. In those days ekklesia was a term used to describe a group of people called out from the general population to serve in a government capacity. If you were part of an ekklesia, you were part of a governing body charged with making laws or guidelines for the benefit of your community.
This has interesting implications for what it means to be a church—an ekklesia—in today’s world. When we say we’re going to church or that we’re members of a church, we’re usually referring to a place where we passively encounter positive experiences. We go to church to find encouragement, to be taught, and to experience fellowship. Those are important aspects of church, but more should be involved.
To be part of the church as Jesus defined it is to be part of a spiritual legislative body tasked with enacting heaven’s viewpoint in hell’s society. In the midst of this world filled with sin, corruption, pain, and death, God has placed an ekklesia—a group of people called out to make a difference and improve the world through the execution of His kingdom agenda. That’s the church.
Jesus Himself made it clear that we have power as members of the church:
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19).
This verse is filled with legislative terms and imagery. The phrase “keys of the kingdom of heaven” refers to our access to God’s heavenly authority. We’ve been given the opportunity to act on God’s behalf to accomplish His agenda. Similarly, the references to bind and loose indicate that we as the church are called to take action when necessary.
In other words, from the first mention of the word church, Jesus made it clear that we’re expected to both reflect God’s values and work to enact His kingdom agenda in the world.
We as Christians today need to understand this: the job of the church isn’t to adopt the values of the culture in which it resides or merely to analyze or assess that culture. Instead, the job of the church is to set heaven in the context of the culture so that people can see God at work in the midst of their everyday lives.
It’s also the job of the church to advance God’s kingdom by making disciples. Remember the Great Commission:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
The church has operated for too long on the defensive side of the battle. We’ve been content to react to the movements of hell rather than actively advancing the values of heaven and the breadth of God’s kingdom.
If we could ever see God’s kingdom as He sees it and if we could ever see one another as He sees us—individuals designed to come together in a unified goal under His overarching kingdom agenda—then the world would have to deal with the strength of the church of Jesus Christ. May that day come soon.
Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)