imminent domain (3)

How then can the church better be a place where God’s Dominion is manifest? First it must seek to be a fellowship of the transformed. It must manifest the character of God within its own fellowship and in its dealings with the world. “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20). In short, the church must be a place where kingdom qualities are in evidence. There can be no place for rivalry or racism, segregation or sexism, greed or graft in the church. Righteousness must be our garment, justice our goal, love the means to all such ends. …

When Jesus told stories about who would sit down at the messianic banquet when the Dominion of God fully came on earth, he reminded his followers that there would be some surprising people present. “I tell you that many will come from the East and the West and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Dominion of heaven while the heirs of the Dominion will be thrown into outer darkness” (Matt. 8:11; cf. Luke 13:28-29). The question such strong warnings raise for us is whether the church is a winsome place. Is it a place that the least, the last, and lost find inviting and helpful? Is it a place where the least, last, and the loss become the first, the most, and the found? Is the church, any church, a hospital for sick sinners or a museum for saints? Doing a better job of ministering to its community is one way a church can better manifest God’s Dominion.

Ben Witherington in Imminent Domain: The Story of the Kingdom of God and Its Celebration (pp.27-28)