Several renewal leaders have been struggling with division in their ranks connected to polarized political ideologies. For some, those divisions were recently on display during discussions about the timing and safe practices of reopening. Jesus reminds us that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25).
Amazingly, Jesus assembled a leadership team from radically divergent political viewpoints to lead the greatest renewal movement of all time. How can renewal leaders recreate this unity in diversity? They can begin where Jesus began. They can gently but persistently remind congregants that their deepest loyalty is to God’s Kingdom. Paul reminded us that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). Our values, allegiances, and daily practices should be sourced in heaven, not on earth. Renewal leaders should remind their congregations that followers of Jesus, by definition, are politically independent. Our viewpoints are forged by Scripture and Spirit, not by party platforms.
Here are 7 characteristics of Kingdom citizens worth emphasizing:
Characteristic 1: Kingdom citizens are passionate about gaining a heart of wisdom
Someone has defined wisdom as “seeing life from God’s perspective.” A heart of wisdom does not come by watching cable news. Wisdom is sourced in listening before speaking (James 1:19), caring before correcting (J. 8:11), and seeking God’s perspective before party talking points (Prov. 14:12 & Rom 12:1-2).
Characteristic 2: Kingdom citizens are committed to developing a Christ-like character
Kingdom citizens are people of Christ-like character. They are faithful to their promises, pure in their motivations, disciplined in their thought life and quick to forgive. They especially exhibit the Spirit’s fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
Characteristic 3: Kingdom Citizens have compassion for the suffering and oppressed
Kingdom citizens consistently demonstrate a compassion for “the least of these my brothers” (Matt. 25:40). They understand God measures the quality of worship by the mercy it motivates (Hos. 6:6). This compassion leads Kingdom citizens to a pursuit of justice for all the oppressed (Micah 6:8).
Characteristic 4: Kingdom citizens exhibit hospitality for the lonely and disconnected
Kingdom citizen have open hearts and open homes. Like Jesus, they welcome the rejected and extend grace to the compromised. This heart for hospitality makes kingdom citizens slow to judge (Matt. 7:1) and quick to enfold (Matt. 9:11). Hospitality includes “aliens and strangers” in our midst (Lev. 19:34).
Characteristic 5: Kingdom citizens are humble and courageous
Kingdom citizens are extremely humble knowing they, too, are sinners saved by grace. They humbly acknowledge their own failures and seek to correct their own faults before the faults of others (Matt.7:3-5). At the same time, they have courage to speak truth in love and receive truth in love.
Characteristic 6: Kingdom citizens are committed to peace-making and bridge-building
Kingdom citizens long for brothers and sisters to dwell in unity. They desire that Jews and Gentiles, blacks and whites, rich and poor, gay and straight, evangelicals and liberals, white collar and blue collar, Republicans and Democrats all share a seat at the table of our Lord (Psalm 133:1 & Eph. 2:14).
Characteristic 7: Kingdom citizens are generous and passionate about prayer
Kingdom citizens are generous with their time, treasure and talent. Like Barnabas they find joy in sharing what they have in service to others (Acts 4:37). Mostly, Kingdom citizens believe that the greatest force in the universe is the power of prayer. Their first inclination is the inclination to pray (I John 5:14).
What characteristics of Kingdom citizens would you add to this list? Please respond with your suggestions and bless us with your insights.
The Center for Church Renewal is committed to assisting church leaders as they help congregations navigate new ministry realities in a rapidly changing world.