I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb (Revelation 21:22 )
I can’t remember the exact wording, who tweeted it or who they were quoting from, but it went something like this: ‘The church exists because of the presence of the Kingdom of God in the world’. And I immediately replied with something like this: ‘No. The church is the training ground for the Kingdom’. Then a day or so later I remembered this verse in Revelation. There is no temple in the city of God. How can that be? Is there no religion in the New Jerusalem? Surely we will still worship? This is what I think: the Kingdom does not exist to produce the church, but the church to help produce the Kingdom. The church is not a result of the Kingdom, rather the Kingdom should be a result of the church.
When the Kingdom of God comes fully, the church will be redundant. There will be no special place or time to worship, for all of life will be worship and every place will be sacred. There will be no priests or preachers – rather we will all be priests, and as for preaching, it will not be necessary. Religion, as a distinct department of life, will be dead. There will also be no politics and no government, except the government of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. We will be holy anarchists. I can’t wait – can you?
But how do we expect to get to this holy state, this ideal world, unless we start practising our ideals now? If the church’s true calling is to make itself redundant, shouldn’t we be working on that? And doesn’t that mean, for example, that we spend as much time on campaigning against food poverty, and for greater economic equality, as we do on handing out tins at foodbanks? Because actually the point of the church is not to make converts or members but to make disciples – and a disciple is someone who learns the ways of the Kingdom and practises them. And the purpose of God is not to create more and more churches, but to bring about the Kingdom: the transformation of this world. And politics is as much a way of effecting that as charity is, if not more.