A few years ago Jane and I saw our first real castle in Warwick, England. The Warwick Castle was begun in 1068 and remains one of the best examples of medieval architecture in the world. Its location next to the River Avon creates a striking view.
When they were constructed castles provided protection, but they also projected power and wealth. No self-respecting king would be without one.
So how is the kingdom of God represented on earth, architecturally speaking? I have seen a few church buildings with castle-like features. The Gothic style, developed in northern France during the latter part of the medieval period, was used in the construction of great churches throughout Europe. Today, we can find examples of the same in some of America’s biggest cities. And occasionally a Gothic hint will show up in modern church structures.
It probably isn’t necessary to point out there are no architectural plans for church buildings in the Bible. The early church was not inclined to pronounce its ministry with physical structures, but instead preferred safe havens such as house churches and catacombs.
Yet, shouldn’t a kingdom and a king have a castle, or something like it? Absolutely! But how do we know what it should look like?
Well, actually, there is no one style. In fact, presently there are over seven billion possibilities. That’s right. Staggering isn’t it?
Alright, by now you have certainly discerned I am talking about a different kind of building. In Luke 17:20-21 we read, ‘Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”’
How is the kingdom of God within us? It enters our lives when we choose to follow Jesus as our Lord and King. Jesus reigns when we identify with His death, burial and resurrection through baptism (Romans 6). Our sins are washed away and we become kingdom people.
Therefore, kingdom architecture is the being that has been redeemed by Jesus and inhabited by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul writes, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)
The good news is, unlike church buildings, we don’t have to pay utilities on our bodies. We do have medical bills, and we require a daily supply of food and water. Come to think of it, in the long-run our temples of the Holy Spirit might cost more to maintain than material church facilities.
But can a material structure walk around town? Can it enter a workplace, love a family, reach out to a neighbor and stop to help a stranded motorist? Does it think, speak and act? Does a church building made of brick and mortar know how to show compassion, bear other’s burdens, or forgive its enemies? The answer, of course, is “no.” But those who have offered their bodies as living sacrifices can (Romans 12:1-21).
If Christ is in you, you are kingdom architecture. Everywhere you go, the kingdom goes with you, and everyone who meets you has an opportunity to see the King up-close. I suppose this reality will suggest different things to different people. As for me, I am going to evaluate my first impressions. Who knows? I might be someone else’s first kingdom castle.