The patterns God has displayed in both the Old and New Testament are vital to understand. God is quite particular in not only how He does things, but the order in which He does things.
The predominant message of the Gospels is the message of the nearness of the Kingdom of God. The Greek word “basileia”, which translates as “kingdom” is used some 109 times in the Gospels, but only 31 times in the following Apostolic letters and the Book of Acts. The word “ecclesia”, which translates as “church” is only mentioned 3 times in the Gospel of Matthew and not at all in the other 3 gospel accounts. However, it is used some 108 times in the Book of Acts and the remaining books of the New Testament. In believing that God is intentional in the order of what He does and says we can safely say there is a pattern here that must not be lost in the contemporary church.
That pattern has to do with the necessity of first things first. Before the church can correctly be built up the foundation of the kingship (Lordship) of God must be reckoned with. Before healthy church life (Christ centered relationships) can be realized the message of Christ’s lordship must be realized on a personal basis.
So, if God’s firsts must come first in our lives then what is the essential foundational message of the kingdom? It was (and is) as John, the forerunner proclaimed, and then as Jesus, Himself, preached: “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand”. (Matthew 3.2 & 4.17 respectively) The word “repent” means to change one’s ways of thinking. We use the word penthouse to identify a high up place. In other words, to repent means to perceive things from a higher perspective. Our lifestyles should be changed simply because we view God, life, and ourselves differently than the rest of humanity. It should also go without saying that as our understanding of God and His ways continues to grow our lifestyles continue to change. As the Apostle Paul put it: “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect”. (Romans 12.2)
Because first things come first and act as a foundation for that which is to come I believe we can make a simple, yet important, deduction. that is that the full potential of church (family) life will not be realized without first embracing change in thinking about life and the ways of life. In short, it will be impossible for us to “prove the will of God” to ourselves and the world without losing the constant focus on the unholy, narcissistic, trinity of “me, myself, and I” and learn to honor and obey the true trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”.
The essential Kingdom message has not changed. It is to pick up my cross and die to self. It is to die daily and seek with all of one’s heart God’s ways and will. Even the structure of how Jesus taught us to pray places personal needs last. It begins with the worship of God and the prayer for His kingdom (Lordship) to come prior to supplication for our needs. If true fellowship with one another is going to be established and prove fruitful then the setting aside of personal demands and desires must be realized. There is no room for narcissism in either the Kingdom, or the church (the people of the Kingdom).