For some time now, Rend Collective (formerly Rend Collective Experiment) has been one of my favorite modern worship bands. Hailing from Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland, this folk/indie group came together in a truly organic fashion as a spiritual and musical community. Rend Collective had already written several excellent worship songs before they released their hit album "Campfire" in 2013. Perhaps their most well-known and frequently sung worship song is "Build Your Kingdom Here," which was originally recorded on "Homemade Worship by Handmade People" (2012) before being re-recorded in complete folk fashion on the "Campfire" album.
I am so excited to introduce "Build Your Kingdom Here" to the congregation of First Baptist Church of Farmersville this Sunday, July 5th, 2015. "Build Your Kingdom Here" is a corporate prayer set to an infectious melody with an energetic, driving folk beat. It would be worth listening to in your car and playing on your guitar at home purely for the musical enjoyment. Yet most importantly, the music is paired with incredibly profound, meaningful, and timely lyrics, making it valuable for use in the church's worship.
The song is filled with expressions from Jesus' teaching and parables about the kingdom of God. The chorus itself is derived from the Lord's Prayer, in which Jesus taught the disciples to pray, "Let your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven" (Matt. 6:10, ESV). Verse two takes Jesus' command in Matthew 6:33 ("Seek first the kingdom of God") and turns it into a declaration of faith ("we seek your kingdom first"). Verse two also says, "To see the captive hearts released; the hurt, the sick, the poor at peace," alluding to Luke 4:18-19, in which Jesus publicly announces his ministry by reading from Isaiah 61. There is also mention of the "kingdom seed," which refers to the parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32).
By using these scriptures as the basis for a prayer song, the overarching theme of the song is the advancement of God's reign in Christ through the church. It is clear in the Bible that God's ongoing and ever-increasing reign is fundamentally important. Scripture teaches that God's reign is "already" and "not yet," which creates a tension that is difficult for us to balance and comprehend. Sometimes Christian hymnody has stressed the "not yet" part of God's kingdom through songs about the "sweet by and by" and "going home to Jordan." However, there is a real need to sing about God's present reign, and "Build Your Kingdom Here" is perhaps the best song I can think of addressing that need for the modern church.
One final note about this song is that it has encouraged me to engage in both domestic and international missions. A line in the chorus says, "Win this nation back." Tomorrow we are singing this in church, and I can't imagine a better thought for us on July 4th weekend than that we want to see Christ win our nation for him. Yet I've also heard a church alter the lyrics and sing, "Win the nations back." When I was visiting the Church at Brook Hills on David Platt's penultimate Sunday as pastor, the congregation sang that altered version, and it really struck me as a prayer that is just as important. We want to see Christ win our nation back, and ultimately, we want to see all nations come to him.
Jesus gave the church the mission of expanding his reign on earth until he returns. Christ hasn't returned yet, so the mission is still ongoing. We are to keep asking him to build his kingdom here, and we are to keep reminding each other that we are the hope for the earth because of Christ in us. I hope this song captures our attention and encourages us to pray all the more, "Come set your rule and reign in our hearts again . . . build your kingdom here."
Here is a music video of the song, complete with the band members playing various folk instruments, including the 'jingling johnny': "Build Your Kingdom Here" music video.