Jesus spent three years here on earth. During that time, you would think Jesus would spend a lot of time teaching his disciples about how to proclaim the Gospel. That He would have a preaching class and a ‘how to communicate the four spiritual laws’ seminar, etc. But during His three years, He often showed them in vivid images about the Kingdom. He starts with a wedding feast. He shows them what the Kingdom is like. He uses stories to tell of it. He shows them healing, feeding, loving, compassion, forgiveness, and truth. He lived the way of the kingdom. He would demonstrate it. He would proclaim it.
Most of us still view the Gospel as a systematic set of beliefs and doctrines we try to transfer cognitively onto someone else. The word Gospel simply means good news. Its a modifier. Its good news of something else. The gospel is the good news of the Kingdom of God. We tell them the good news of the story of God, and that He is inviting people into the story. Way things are in heaven, He has made a way for those things to come here on earth. As Paul would say, “the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” (1 Cor 4:20)
There a piece of Scripture I’ve often missed in Matthew 16:13-20. When Jusus is talking to Peter about building His church, He turns to Peter and tells him that He (Jesus) will build His church. And what does He give Peter? Not the keys to great conversations, not the keys to winning arguments. Not even the keys to build an amazing church. He gives him the keys to the Kingdom. As if to say, “Peter, be all about the Kingdom. Be a people who are all about the Kingdom. You do that, the whole church thing will follow. I’ll build my church, you worry about the Kingdom.”
Even as Jesus is leaving them, he parts with His disciples saying “I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom.” This thing I’ve been showing you, inviting you into, I am assigning you now with the task of showing it and telling people about it.
How do we do it? We remember the stories. Remember the time the wine ran out? Remember what we did? The 500 gallons we turned into wine and kept the celebration going? Remember Zaccheus? The guy that people ostracized and they chased up the tree? They hated him. Remember how we walked over to the tree and Jesus called him down and we had dinner with him? We protected people that shouldn’t have been protected? We ate with people that people didn’t think we should eat with? Remember what people thought of us? Remember what we did on the Sabbath? Everyone was going to church and doing their religious thing. We stopped and helped people? We did things that were practical. More than rhetoric. We fed and healed with no strings attached. Remember what people said about us. When we saw people who were hungry, we fed them. We should do all those things.
This is why the Kingdom is good news. You demonstrate and proclaim. They will come to you and ask you tell them what they have seen or been experiencing. You should expect people to ask about the hope in you. Not the doctrine. And do so with gentleness and patience. Paul must have known that sharing your faith is a living story and a running conversations. Keep demonstrating. Keep proclaiming.
(Adapted from Hugh Halter, Verge 2013)