Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the Twelve were with Him. — Luke 8: 1
This year the theme for the New Apostolic Church is Joy in Christ. But how do we find that joy and do we find that joy in all the things that we love? These were some of the questions posed during the divine service held at Midrand Congregation on Sunday, 18 January 2015 as members learnt about how Jesus Christ teaches us about the kingdom of God.
Shepherd Lance Smith to enter into the kingdom of God, we need to subscribe to the teachings of Christ. “We need to subscribe to the teachings of Christ and make it apart of us. Christ is the greatest teacher of all time.” He then advised members to read John 3: 1-21 where Christ teaches Nicodemus.
He said even though we have been born again through the holy spirit, having being baptised and sealed, it is not a guarantee that we will enter the kingdom of God. We will enter the kingdom of God when we accept and ascribe to the teachings of Christ. He added that Christ spoke and taught in parables and that with parables, the meaning is hidden from those who do not have the holy spirit to reveal the deeper message. Understanding this message allows one to make changes in their lives.
Members also heard that Christ’s actions were never contrary to the words he expressed. “So what do we need to learn from this,” asked the Shepherd. “We need to learn that our deeds and words should be aligned in everything that we do in our life. When people look at us, do they see that Christ lives within us and that we subscribe to his teachings?”
He also spoke about the importance and meaning behind saying the Our father prayer. Do we just say it or do we use it as a communication tool to speak to God? Do we acknowledge the words that we express? Are they credible?
Priest Brendt van Rooi reiterated the importance of our words and deeds being aligned. “We must be trustworthy, credible, so that other people can see Christ in us.” He also spoke about having a heart of reconciliation and dealing with our past, our burdens and our weaknesses. He then reminded us that we all have imperfections and if we ask God to forgive us, we must be able to forgive others.
Priest Coen Smit raised a valid point of members coming to church because they need something and asked how often do we focus on the feeling that “I am coming to church because I love Christ”. He then asked where is the kingdom of God, and answered that it is within us. But how can it be within us; how does it get there? “We have to make it relevant,” he said, adding that we have to apply Christ’s teachings. “It is through doing that, we will experience the kingdom of God.”
Before serving holy communion, the Shepherd shared the story of Simon and the two debtors from Luke 7: 36-50. This story is a contrast between traditional religion and a personal, intimate relationship with God through Christ. Urging members to read this parable, he said we must acknowledge our own sin and not judge one another.
* Adapted from the divine service held at Midrand Congregation on Sunday, 18 January 2015.