The Kingdom and Evangelism



Scripture:

1 Kings 8:41-43

“Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name —for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.

Observation:

This prayer of Solomon is prophetic and thought-provoking. During his dedication of the temple he includes an evangelistic prayer for the foreigners who will come and visit his land. Solomon believes that God will do great and powerful things in Israel and that people will come from far and wide just to see for themselves the ways in which God is at work. 

He prays that when the foreigners arrive that they will be so inspired that they will cry out to God. There must have been an intimation of such a great work done by God that it would inspire people to pray. 

This prayer of Solomon’s was evangelistic because he wanted the good news about God’s faithfulness to be spread throughout the entire world. Some would come and see because of the stories they heard. They would then travel back home, taking the good news with them, spreading the word about the one true God everywhere they would go. 

Application:

Evangelism seems to be one of those words that invokes fear or frustration. Historically there have been those salvation plans that we were to memorize and only by use of that material were people coming to Christ. We were sent out into the highways and byways (or maybe the local mall) and told to get someone saved! It was terrifying and quite unproductive, leaving those who had tried out the experiment sensitized against the activity. But all of that has nothing to do with the type of evangelism expressed here, for Solomon understood that evangelism had everything to do with God’s revelation in the life of the kingdom. 

If life in the kingdom is the place of revelation and resultant evangelism, then the responsibility of all those who are following Christ is to live faithfully in the kingdom. What would draw people to Jerusalem would be the stories of Gods faithfulness among the people. Evangelism begins when our daily lives reflect the faithfulness of God who is living in relationship with humankind. 

A couple of days ago I shared a post about the journey on which I find my parents. I have to confess that I am overwhelmed by the response, but I also see something evangelistic happening. My parents are no longer capable to get out and share the good news of Jesus with others, but there is something about their life in the kingdom that has had an impact. Thanks to all my high-school friends who took the time to write something about my parents. You see, when I was a teenager, our home was open to my friends. My mother was a great hostess and always greeted my friends with open arms. I don’t think she ever preached at any of them — but there was something evangelistic about her very nature. 

Seriously, in hindsight my mother was probably one of the best evangelists I’ve ever known, but not because she preached everywhere she went, but because she simply lived in God’s kingdom. Sometimes that looked like taking a fresh-baked batch of cinnamon rolls to the newest neighbor on the street and introducing herself. Lovingly sitting at the bedside of the woman next door as she died of cancer. Embracing the woman down the street whose child was swept away in a storm drain during a Kansas thunderstorm. Reaching out to the woman on the other side of the house who was struggling in her marriage, taking her meals and just listening. About a month ago, that woman walked into the church where my husband and daughter pastor; forty years later, serving Jesus. 

Everywhere I go people will come up to me and tell me something that my mother did to touch their lives. I don’t think that she ever memorized some kind of a plan of salvation to share with others, but she did reflect the faithfulness of God working in and through her. 

The plan is really quite simple. God’s people are to live faithfully as citizens of the kingdom of God. By trusting in God to supply our needs, God will be glorified and the world drawn to come and experience this life for themselves. If our lives are not attracting others to ask questions about life in the kingdom, maybe we need to reevaluate our own relationship with God. Life in the kingdom cannot be divorced from evangelism. Evangelism is not an optional activity for the people of God. Evangelism is a natural outgrowth of faithful kingdom living and therefore evangelism is directly dependent upon our own nearness to God. The closer to Christ, the brighter the reflection of him — and he will draw all people near. 

Solomon’s expectation was that the whole world would know about God as a result of God’s glory being revealed in and through the kingdom. This should be ours as well. 

Prayer:


Lord, draw me closer to you today so that you will be revealed in me. Amen. 

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