From the earliest time of biblical record there is a beautiful pattern that emerges concerning the Godhead.
Genesis records that ‘in the beginning God created’ (Gen 1 v 1), then ‘God’s Spirit was hovering over the deep’ (Gen 1 v 2), and in forming the pinnacle of His creation (man) God says ‘let us make man in our own image’ (Gen 1 v 26). Note the plurality of God’s statement, from that it is clear the act of creation was carried out by all three persons in the Godhead, revealing a relational God with a desire to create in order to relate.
As mankind populated the earth, God’s intention was to reveal His character and nature through a people group, He chose the ‘Hebrew nation’ from the time of Abraham, who became the ‘Father of the nations’. That was, and still is, God’s choice. Throughout the Old Testament God shows Himself to be a relational God, and even speaks of His intent to save the Gentile nations as they recognise who He is.
Just as the Hebrew nation was chosen to reveal God’s heart to the nations, so in this the New Covenant age, the Church of Christ is the vehicle by which He chooses to show His Kingdom to a world so lost and desperate, having rejected His advances for so long. It is important to stress again that God has not and will not reject Israel totally in His end time plan, otherwise an ‘everlasting covenant’ doesn’t mean what it says, and God is not a liar (see Romans 9, 10 & 11).
God knew that for us, unlike Him, relating to all people all of the time is impossible, which is why He birthed the Church, so that we would be able to relate to His people in our particular locale. It’s all very simple! Except of course for the fact that we are flawed individuals who come together from varying backgrounds and experiences, to form a local ‘body’ seeking to model something radically different from the world around us, in terms of relationships. Kingdom relationships can only be built when the King is in the centre of our dealings with each other. Kingdom relationships need to be built, it doesn’t come instantly or automatically!
When we build a structure we start below ground and put in place strong foundations, then layer by layer build upwards to form a completed building, with all the elements in their right position. So it is with building the Kingdom of God (or as it is referred to in some bible passages ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’). The foundation is Christ (1 Cor 3 v 11), the elements are us as believers, knitted together with various fixings, to make a house fit for the King to inhabit (Eph 2 v 19-22). It cannot be stressed enough here that the depth and quality of relationships in any local body affects its ability to reflect God’s nature, and extend His Kingdom.
Jesus modelled this principle in perfection, calling 12 disparate individuals, sharing His life with them, and eventually moulding them into a world changing Team. He even invested three years in one who would eventually betray Him; what a challenge that is to all of us who lead in any way ! Jesus did not merely ‘talk the talk’, but ‘walked the walk’ every day of His life, from childhood through to manhood (Phil 2 v 5-11).
John, ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’, wrote much in his first letter about love, stating over and over that we cannot say we love God unless we demonstrate it by loving our fellow man. We cannot live out our Christian lives in isolation, relating to others in an important part of maturing towards a life that moves from self-serving to sacrificial serving, with Christ as our ultimate example.
The conclusion we can draw from looking at the whole of God’s word is that kingdom relationships will always form the heartbeat of His body, the Church, to show the world God lives and desires to relate to His creation. A challenging but exciting mission!