Intentional Kingdom Witness | The Brethren Church

Intentional Kingdom Witness

Intentional Kingdom Witness

We recognize that Jesus’ earthly mission in the world was driven by his concern to preach the “good news of the Kingdom of God” (Luke 4:42-44). The nature of our service to others in the name of Jesus Christ is also characterized by our desire to bear witness to the Kingdom of God. We understand the ministry we do as something that both brings glory to God and expands in both breadth and depth God's reign and ruling power throughout the world. Thus the nature of our ministry is something qualitatively different from social services or humanitarian aid–though we are in support of both.

Our witness-bearing is modeled after the same selfless, loving concern Jesus showed for all humanity, which has changed our lives (Phil. 2:3ff, Rom. 5:8). It is fundamentally concerned with living up to Jesus’ charges to his Church: That we, in the power of the Holy Spirit, act as witnesses to Jesus in places close to us–culturally and geographically– places further away, places we’d rather not go, and throughout the world (Acts 1:8). Recognizing the presence of Christ with us, we “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything [Jesus] has commanded [us].” (Matt. 28:19-20).

We are reminded that that our willingness to offer aid and comfort to one another is both a test and marker of the transformation we Brethren have experienced (James 2:14-17, 1 John 4:20-21). Our witness bearing includes the drive to offer compassion to all those who “are like sheep without a shepherd” and bless them in whatever ways we are able, wherever we find them (Mark 6:34). We believe that God has invited us into the intimacy that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share (John 14:18-20), that he has adopted us as children (Rom. 8:12-17), and that he has given us all the rights and responsibilities that come with being part of God's people (1 Pet. 2:9-10).  Because of these blessings, we try to model the same hospitable spirit to people all over the world, both those near us and, as we are able and called, to those far away. One primary way to understand God's work through Jesus is declared by Paul when he states that "God was, in the Messiah, reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:19). This reconciliatory effort is an ultimate act of hospitality, in which God works to invite us back into a relationship that sin and evil had broken, and so we embody the same reconciling character in the places God has us. 

These statements highlight a basic quality of our witness-bearing: Its intentional nature. We don't simply wait for our faithfulness to be called upon, but seek to be proactive in bearing witness to God’s character, power, and work. We understand that we should be actively pursuing opportunities to advance God’s Kingdom in all the places we find ourselves: locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. As Brethren led by the Spirit, we join together to extend the Brethren witness across all cultures through the multiplication of disciples, leaders, and churches in intentional ways.

More generally, we position ourselves as a church to be able to provide compassionate aid to whoever might ask. We strive to develop safe, trusting relationships with one another as Brethren, and with others as congregations and individuals, so that we all might feel the freedom of an open invitation to ask for one another's help in doing God’s Kingdom work. We are not coercive in our attempts to bear witness to God’s love for the world, but we do articulate our willingness to do so, and follow through when that offer is vulnerably received.

As The Brethren Church, we provide and promote structures, programming, and resources that help us live up to this Core Value. Such structures range from the efforts of The Brethren Church National Office and our national programming, to our denominational structure, which positions us for equitable communication and help in doing the work of God. We receive the help of our partner organizations nationally and internationally, and we celebrate all the ways God uses us to bear witness to His Kingdom. We dedicate time, treasure, and resources at all levels of The Brethren Church to intentionally do the work God has called us to do. We love our Brethren global partners as ourselves, and seek to bless them as they bear witness to God’s Kingdom in their unique cultural contexts in ways we, though their brothers and sisters, cannot.

In many ways this offering of our lives to one another, and receiving each other with grace and commitment, is a characteristic of all we do as Brethren who take on Jesus’ principle of living his life for the Kingdom of God. It is ultimately the practice of "loving your neighbor as yourself," (Mark 12:29-31) and "doing to others as you'd be done to" (Matt 7:12) no matter the situation. At base, we bear witness to the Kingdom of God in intentional, strategic, respectful, and Christ-like ways because it reflects to the world the intentional, strategic, respectful, and Christ-like love that God has for everyone. This love was ultimately revealed through Jesus and is still being revealed to the world through the church and the witness of the Holy Spirit. As we pursue the God who is love and work to become like Jesus who "loved us and gave himself for us" (Eph 5:2), the practice of bearing witness to God’s Kingdom of love naturally flows out of us. This becomes our greatest witness to those who are not yet followers of Jesus (John 13:34-35), and one of our greatest sources of strength as we together pursue "the upward call of God" in our individual lives and our life together as The Brethren Church (Phil. 3:14).

Lastly, our ultimate allegiance is not to any “kingdom” on earth or any political body, but rather, the Kingdom of God, of which we’re citizens (Eph. 2:19; Acts 5:29). This commitment has wide impact on how we live our lives while we have them (Gal. 2:20).