“Where Is Your Church?”
33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.
34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”
Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked.
My son, Rhett, LOVES being outside and the biggest bonding experience that I’ve shared with him over the past few years is taking him to local parks. As a 4-year old, he has a lot of energy to burn and a park is a great place to let him be himself and engage in physical play.
I also enjoy the park because it gives me a chance to meet and talk with new people, usually parents with similarly-aged children. Our small talk conversations often gravitate toward career choices, and I find myself frequently stating that I’m in ministry and am also serving as a worship leader in a local church presently.
After explaining that I’m in ministry, I’m almost inevitably asked the following question, every single time:
“What’s your church’s name? Where is it at?”
I’m sure you’ve had similar questions asked of yourself in the past when you’ve explained you are a Christian. And you’ve probably responded by stating your church’s name, who the pastor is, and where your worship space is, right?
I mean, that’s how I usually respond to the question when I’m asked by new people. You tell them your church’s name, who leads it, and where it’s at. We’ve all answered this question before without much thought.
When Pilate met Jesus, he had some seemingly simple questions for Him.
Pilate wanted to know if Jesus thought of Himself as a king, which of course implies that one also has subjects and lands that they rule.
But Jesus didn’t give Pilate a particularly simple answer…and I bring this up before you today, because perhaps we shouldn’t give such simple answers ourselves when we’re asked, “Where is your church?”
Because the kingdom Jesus described couldn’t exactly be pointed to as a physical location, or with followers that could band together and fight. And yet, that kingdom is the same exact place He invites each of us into who want to follow Him.
So where is His Kingdom exactly?
Let’s look closer at this passage, and see what Jesus has to tell us about where we can find His Kingdom.
When Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king, there was a mocking overtone in his question…but he also seemed curious to understand what exactly Jesus ruled over.
Overall, Pilate viewed Jesus as harmless, but the Romans didn’t take too kindly to insurrection and rebellion. So for a man to suddenly declare himself to be a king was very problematic to a Roman leader like Pilate. But Pilate couldn’t establish an actual serious offense with Jesus as a king if he couldn’t determine what lands and people Jesus proclaimed to rule over.
Pilate understood that it was a big deal if Jesus was leading a rebellion against the Romans. But who was He leading? Where was His territory?
Pilate couldn’t understand what Jesus’ Kingdom was exactly.
Frustrated with the conversation, Pilate ultimately ends the discussion with a seemingly perplexed rhetorical question, “What is truth?”
Do we have the same struggle today, even as Christian people?
Do we too often fail to understand what Jesus’ Kingdom is and where it’s at?
Jesus told Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world” and explicitly states that His Kingdom is not an earthly one.
So does this mean that Jesus, when He describes His Kingdom, is referring only to Heaven?
Not at all! Rather, Jesus’ Kingdom represents an invasion of Heaven and God’s glory into this dark world.
In Matthew 4:17, Jesus’ early ministry is summarized as “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” In other words, Jesus led the heavenly realms, the holy realm of God and a place of perfection and peace, into close proximity with our very own.
With the establishment of His Kingdom, Jesus invites us to join Him, here and now, led by the Spirit, in a “place” that isn’t a physical location. Instead, it’s defined by the truth of who He is and what He represents.
You see, the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t just the Church, although churches are hopefully playing a significant role in the Kingdom.
Nor is the Kingdom just your own personal experience with God, because there are many people who live in the Kingdom.
Instead, the Kingdom can be discovered wherever the truth and love of Jesus can be found on display.
The Kingdom is in every home that places Christ first and foremost.
The Kingdom is in every church that strives for pure worship, discipleship, and loving God and their neighbor.
The Kingdom is in every sort of spiritual friendship, whether it’s with your small group or with a like-minded co-worker who you share your faith with.
The Kingdom is found in dorm rooms where young people gather to discuss their struggles in faith and encourage one another.
The Kingdom is found in prisons where inmates disciple one another, learning to depend on God and not on their past ways.
The Kingdom is found in missions and shelters, where the truth of Christ is shared alongside a helping hand.
The Kingdom can be found in many, many places.
But you can’t point to a map and say, “The Kingdom is over here, but not over there!”
The Kingdom isn’t easy to describe, but it can be readily found by anyone who accepts the truth of God and turns their hearts to Him.
So where is your church? Where is it located? Who is the leader? Yes…these are important questions to be answered.
But we also need to be asking ourselves, and explaining to others, where we’re encountering Christ’s Kingdom. We need to be helping others understand what it looks like, and to see the signs that the Kingdom is at work, and it’s still as good and true as it was when Christ established it here on this Earth 2,000 years ago.
Because really our Church is wherever Christ is realized and shared!
Spend time today pondering the Kingdom of Heaven. Where do you encounter Christ’s Kingdom in your own life? Where are some places in the past that you’ve unexpectedly found a Kingdom experience, such as at work or in a new friendship?
Dear God, Help me to see your Kingdom all around me. Show me the places where your Spirit leads, and enable me to be a stronger ambassador for your truth by depending on you greater each day. Lord, I pray that my light will be a powerful witness to the glory of your Kingdom, and that my life and my home will be a beacon of hope for all who witness the work of the Kingdom taking place in the midst of this broken world. Amen.
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Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.