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To see the coming kingdom is our hope

To think of hope is to think of the church

For me, to think of hope is to think of the church. We might be used to hearing that the church is dead, but I just don’t believe it. The church is God’s idea, He’s not changed His mind.

The church is God’s chosen instrument to bring change to the world. It is Christ’s body on earth. As an organisation, the Evangelical Alliance exists to serve this church, and we have the privilege of working together to bring the great hope of Christ to the world.

I don’t mean the church as an institution. When I decided to follow Jesus, I was captured by a much bigger vision than just my church. I signed up to seek his kingdom
first, and offer my life to join the great story of what God is doing in this world. This is a huge vision, and it’s a vision that is full of hope.

Of course the institutions of church have their ups and its downs, they can lose sight of the true hope of Christ, getting bogged down in issues that are irrelevant
to its greater mission. Ultimately all power structures and institutions within the church, including denominations and even the Evangelical Alliance, are challenged by
the call to submit to God’s agenda for His kingdom, His rule and reign. 

That doesn’t mean that we should abandon the institutions, the procedures and the structures of the church. God forbid! We need them, here in the UK, and internationally. We just need to remember that they are a means to an end, not the end in themselves. They’re only useful if they are serving the greater purpose of the coming kingdom.

We have the great privilege of working together with Him on this amazing project, to work for God’s purposes, to advance God’s kingdom and bring hope to the world

These structures and organisations are simply scaffolding that will support the living building of Christ’s church that is being built. As Christians, we have the great privilege of working together with Him on this amazing project, to work for God’s purposes, to advance God’s kingdom and bring hope to the world.

Of course to do this, we must work together across these structures and institutions too, and transcend any barriers that are in the way. I feel hope at the moment
when I consider the new movements of unity between different Christians, often working together to make Christ known in our communities. God is bringing Christians together from so many different backgrounds, cultures and across so many divides – whether ethnicity, gender, clan or age. For me, in recent years, one of my greatest joys has been the growing relationship God has given me with leaders from the black and ethnic minority churches.

Their impact on my life has been enormous. God desires His family to live together in unity, to demonstrate the love to one another that comes from God; to make
visible what is invisible. Then we can come together to make Christ known, and observe the radical transformation that takes place when Christ is honoured and hope is established in a person’s heart. To see the coming kingdom is our hope.

About the author

Steve has been general director of the Evangelical Alliance since April 2009. He is chair of HOPE Together and has previously been international chair of March for Jesus and chair of the leadership team for Soul Survivor. Steve continues to give advice and support to churches and has worked in a variety of church roles, including many among the Pioneer network of churches. Currently, he is a member of the leadership team at his local church.

See more from Steve Clifford

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