The kingdom transcends the church in two ways. It existed before the beginning of the church and will be God's kingly domain throughout eternity. The kingdom is also larger than the church. It represents the ultimate lordship of Christ over all peoples, principalities, and powers. The church, the body of believers, embraces the rule of God. The culture and structure of the church, designed to express kingdom ways, can become brittle and leak the precious wine. These cultural expressions and organized structures, these human creations, need periodic overhaul to assure they remain servants of the kingdom.(Image: slice of the cover of The Upside-Down Kingdom)
. . . . [I]f we view church programs and structures as human creations, not the kingdom itself, we less easily sacralize them. The moment church structures become identical with the kingdom, they rise to sacred heights. The structures of the church reflect and embody the kingdom but are neither the kingdom nor the church itself.
So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them: "I'm here to introduce you to this God.... He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him!" ~Acts 17