“Ah, the sounds of construction.” If you’re a Spotify addict like I am* then you can hear Dennis Haysbert say this first line of Spotify’s commercial perfectly. Maybe you can even quote the rest of it! “That’s music to the ears of our economy. From Independence, MO to Overland Park, KS….” I tune out for the rest of this commercial Spotify is running for Allstate, so I don’t know what it’s for specifically. All I know is that it has something to do with construction.
That’s what Allstate’s commercial and the Kingdom of God have in common: construction. They are both about making things and building stuff. That should be music to our ears, especially the sweet, sweet melodic voice of Dennis Haysbert.
A lot of people think that building the Kingdom of God is all about bricks, butts, and bucks. Building a church, to them, means constructing something with four walls, a roof, windows, and doors. That takes BUCKS. Once the BRICKS are in place, there’s room for the BUTTS. And magically, those three B’s somehow have to find the perfect storm to come together all at once for the a church in the Kingdom of God to be successful.
But that’s not the entire picture. It’s not even close. The Kingdom of God ≠ a church building.
Physical construction is not how Jesus expects us to build the Kingdom of God. While He uses that wording, the Kingdom of God is so much more than bricks, butts, and bucks. The Kingdom of God is visible, but we don’t see it all.
[A quick tangent first. Before I dig into this more, you must know that I am sitting on my butt in an office in our church building–that actually DOES have some bricks in it. The building is assembled for butts to show up and do this Kingdom of God thing together. People pooled a lot of bucks to make that happen. Bricks, butts, and bucks are not all bad–but more on that later.]
Just because a group of people have a building they meet in does not mean that represents the Kingdom of God perfectly and totally. It is present, but the Kingdom of God goes beyond those walls. It has to!
To name a few instances, the Kingdom of God is present when
- a homeless person is offered assistance
- a hard heart changes into flesh
- neighbors come together to support each other in times of need
- orphans are taken care of
- reconciliation happens across social, economic, racial, and religious lines.
To someone who claimed they wanted to follow Him, Jesus said, “Birds have nests and foxes have dens, but the Son of Man has no place to rest His head.” Jesus didn’t rely on buildings to spread The Story. Jesus relied on the reign of God in the hearts of men, women, and children.
Bricks, butts, and bucks are not all bad. They just aren’t the be-all, end-all of building the Kingdom of God! My church in particular has touched many lives, made disciples, and is spreading the Jesus story for many to live. A lot of that happens in the building our community has constructed. But every church community needs to get outside of their walls. A light put under a bowl does no good. It has to shine outside of that bowl. We serve a God who is not contained by any buildings.
People build the Kingdom of God in other people. Buildings are useful to help facilitate that, but are not always needed. Sometimes buildings get in the way. I can name ten people who won’t step foot in a church building, but would love to talk Godstuff with me over a milkshake.
We have to believe that the Kingdom of God is getting built bit by bit in ways that would surprise us, in places we would never expect. If we don’t hold onto that hope, Christ followers in the U.S. need to start worrying. The steep decline of our population who aren’t stepping into church buildings is only getting bleaker.
*Spotify is free software that streams music through your computer. It’s completely awesome, unless you’re allergic to a commercial playing every 15-20 minutes.
(Look, Mom, I used the word “butts” in my post IN ALL CAPS!)