Jesus’ Secrets for Advancing His Kingdom
During the Pandemic
Introducing Jesus’ Secrets
In my previous books, Neighborhood Initiative and the Love of God, The Incarnational Church, and The Kairos Adventure, I emphasized the centrality of the home for loving and caring for neighbors. In our day, the believing home has been deephasized by the Church. We underestimated its significance when it comes to the advance of our Lord’s kingdom. But if you look closely at the book of Acts and read about the early church, you will find that the gospel spread rapidly through the unique Christian home. The flow of Gods’ love starts with Christians in their home, married or single, and begins to stream into our nieghborhoods, the places where we work, go to school, and other places where we spend our day. With today’s pandemic, we have a perfect opportunity to live this out with our neighbors.
For years, I was looking to find how the gospel could spread in an authentic and naturally-supernatural way. After years of searching, I found when our home became central for the advance of God’s kingdom and I began to live as Jesus did where God had placed me, my search was over.
Why the Term “Secrets” is Used
The word “secrets” is used in the title and here in the introduction, because all too often we who desire to see Jesus’ kingdom advance, resort to methods and programs, or our own strategies, which have a very short shelf life, rather than what Jesus put forth in the Gospels about how his kingdom advances. Believe me, I have done all three. But Jesus’ approach is counter intuitive to these. His approach involved relationship, which I have found is sustainable. Jesus spoke about these secrets in Matthew 13:11, after his disciples asked him why he spoke in parables, he said, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” The “them” that Jesus is referring to here are those who didn’t have eyes to see (13:12). The intention of this book is to help us come to grips with many of Jesus’ secrets for advancing his kingdom—his reign and rule—which are often overlooked.
The Importance of Love
This small book is all about Jesus and how He lived a life of love with those He encountered during his time on earth. Jesus not only exemplified it, but commanded us to do the same when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The Apostle Paul said the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this Great command of Jesus (Ephesians 4:13). James, Jesus’ half-brother, called this neighborly love the “Royal Law” (James 2:8). This is what those in our neighborhoods today are waiting to see in us who believe—an inexplicable love that attracts them to a God who loves them deeply.
We can’t stir up this kind of love in our own strength. The source of the love Paul and James speak of originates in God. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It is a gift given to us by the Spirit of God—“The fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Galatians 5:22). We are merely a branch on the Vine and if we are abiding in the Vine, the fruit of His love flows freely through our lives and has remarkable influence in the lives of others.
Learning the Significance of Love
It is easy, for us who believe, to take for granted God’s love streaming through us. Many years ago, I became profoundly aware of what it was like not to experience His love. My attitude toward a brother soured and it led me into a downward spiral with this person and, more importantly, with God. Bitterness got the best of me and I was stuck. During a two year season, I tried my best to live my life for God, but because of pride I was shut off from experiencing His love. Through a series of events, God brought healing to my soul and restored my relationship with Him and this brother. It was a humbling experience. He used this portion of scripture to bring conviction and draw me back into relationship with Him, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:20, 21). When you are trapped in bitterness, it is very hard to get out of it. In fact, it is impossible without God. He graciously ripped out the bitter root with these words, “This is not about _______ (the brother’s name here) this is about you.” Conviction swelled within me and I humbled myself before the Lord and confessed to this brother my bitterness and lack of love and God set me free and His love once again poured freely through me. His favor came back and He began to use me once again, because without God’s love I have nothing. I call it “my million dollar experience I wouldn’t give a dime to do again.”
I share this personal story because if you are stuck like I was, this little book will not be helpful until you are right with God. If all is well with your soul then you’re ready to take a closer look at what Jesus’ Secrets for Advancing His Kingdom is all about.
It’s an Organic Work of God
This is not a program, but an organic work that God desires for His people. It’s encouraging followers of Jesus to go out of their way to befriend those where God has placed them—to care for them, listen to them, serve them, and be there for them. It is letting your light so shine before them in such a way that they see Jesus in you and desire to have the kind of love you have. People are looking for someone who is authentic, one who loves them from a pure heart with no other motive but to communicate that they have value and God sees them as a precious treasure.
The seed of any plant has within its construct all that it requires to become what it will be at maturity. So like the tiny mustard seed, Jesus’ love starts small in each of His followers and by God’s power has the potential to change the lives of those where God has placed us. As God’s kingdom work grows in you, and then through you, it will accomplish what the Lord intends, one of flesh that extends to the hearts of those where God has placed you within your neighborhood. For some this will require a paradigm shift from methods and programs to relating to people where they are in life’s journey. This may make some of us uncomfortable, but we must enter into their world, as Jesus entered ours, and begin to love them in spite of their attitudes, beliefs, and lifestyles.
God has placed you and me where He has so that we will live like Jesus, that is, that we will love our neighbors as ourselves. Where each of us spend our time in our journey in this world is not by chance, but by God’s sovereign design so that we will be His representative to those we encounter from day to day (Acts 17:26-27).
In Jesus’ Secrets for Advancing His Kingdom, you will observe how Jesus lived and instructed us to live so that we will be led by God’s Spirit to lead others into a relationship with Jesus through His love. Each chapter will introduce you to another story, or parable, or instruction to help you live like Jesus did. Each chapter will speak of Jesus, the one who knows how to help people into his kingdom. This is all to the end that others will enter His life (John 10:10) and love (1 John 4:7-12), so they will in turn do the same for others.
Right after my dear friend Dave McNeal led me to the Lord in Thailand, during the Vietnam War, he said, “Now you go and do what I did for you.” I thought, “No way!” But when I returned to the states, the love of Christ flowing through me compelled me and I began to share His love with everyone I could. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that this is what Jesus’ love does in and through us once we believe,
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14 and 15).
Simply stated, because of His love for us and in us, we can’t stop showing His love to others.