I want to start a conversation about the Kingdom of God. So often I find myself in a position of having to bear the burden of proof for the Kingdom of God “being” now in the present, not just as a future being, but a present being.
The message of the Gospel of the Kingdom was the radical message I first heard at 18 that brought me to reconsider the faith in Jesus. I have often found there to be a tension between the idea of Church and the idea of Kingdom, but here is where it gets interesting in discussion. I have gone further into this topic at length in a previous post (http://jonbeadle.com/will-everyone-go-to-heaven/) and it remains the most read post in my entire blog! I think I know why.
There is a resurgence of passion for getting back to the original message that Jesus preached as Gospel as future happenings in a present reality. The in-breaking of God upon the earth through Jesus; thus, through the body of Christ who exist on the earth today. The Kingdom of God is not purely earthly, it is also intergalactic because it includes those who have gone before us, not just a reality among the living.
Kingdom actions matter. Not simply because they have impact on the present, but because they have impact also on the future.
Here are some phrases I usually use to describe Kingdom:
The idea of Kingdom as a Sovereign (there is only one King over all: Jesus).
The idea of Kingdom as a Land (not necessarily Israel but land wherever the true church lives and works).
The idea of Kingdom as a People (membership in Jesus is the table we are inviting people to sit at).
The idea of Kingdom as Peace (a strong belief in peace is largely absent in our nationalistic churches who have marginalized Jesus because of eagerness to war, rather than considering the teachings of Jesus).
The idea of Kingdom as a kind of Justice (restorative rather than retributive).
The idea of Kingdom as a Future (God leads the church as a shepherd ahead of us, rather than a manager upon us, pulling us into greater things).
Quick Story: Just last night, my wife and I went to a concert featuring many bands that sound like the bands I used to be in when I wore even tighter jeans and longer bangs. As we were head bobbing along with the others around us, I turned to my left, only to see that one of my oldest friends was standing there. When I began to tell him about what I do, he openly admitted to not following Jesus anymore. What I found interesting was he equated following Jesus with being able to tell what is right and wrong. “I don’t need the church to tell me what is right and wrong. I know what is right and wrong.” Once again, we find a categorical misunderstanding that most people have about the Kingdom: it’s all about knowing what not to do, thus furthering the notion that Christians are known by what they are against rather than what they are “for.” As I began to tell him about the Kingdom agenda of Jesus, his eyes lit up and a certain return to those days when the power of the Spirit would visit us in our band days together. As I state in my third podcast, when people in America say “Yes!” to Jesus, they usually say yes to everything but Jesus. My friend and I will connect soon, and I trust that the vision that Jesus has for this earth and for his life (with a powerful emphasis on the cross and resurrection) will be compelling enough to show him the way worth following.
Scot McKnight is not a teacher I agree with 100% but his provocation towards Kingdom work within the church is incredibly helpful. Please leave your comments below. I look forward to the discussion!