The Kingdom of God. Much has been and still can be said about this topic. Many books have been written and thousands of sermons preached regarding this subject. But I desired to write something rather quickly about it. Here’s a quick sketch of how I see the kingdom of God.
- The first phrase Jesus uttered at the start of his ministry: “Repent, for the kingdom is near.” In other words, get your act together because a sovereign state will come and decide your fate.
- He told the poor not to worry about having nothing because they’ll inherit something grand – the kingdom of God. From rags to royalty.
- He taught that many will choose to reject the liberating news of a redeeming kingdom. They will rather live in their bondage, for that is where their pleasure is.
- In one parable he told, he referred the kingdom as to a tiny seed, that when planted, it’ll grow into a large tree which will give shade and rest – salvation from suffering.
- He sent his apprentices – or ambassadors, out as heralds proclaiming the coming of the kingdom. Citizens were not to be quite about who they pledged their allegiance to.
- Though all were invited, Jesus cautioned that one must be approved to become its citizen. Adhering to sin more than the Justice of God rejected them from entrance.
- Jesus said the kingdom belongs to people who are as children – a class of the needy. It’s becoming conscious of our insufficiency of true living without the King.
- Jesus challenged a rich man to give his wealth away to the poor, and the kingdom doors would be opened to him. “Oh how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
- James and John asked if they could sit next to Jesus in kingdom courts. Jesus responded, “you have to be a slave first”. A slave is the property of another. A kingdom slave is a willing slave.
- Jesus was thrown on an animal and rode into the city as the people shouted praises, “Your king is coming”! He was seated on a donkey instead of a horse. Peace and humility over war and pride.
- Pilate asked Jesus if he were the “king”. Jesus answered “yes”. Later, he was mocked and executed. The innocent encounters hardship. And many followers of the king will experience the same.
From these statements about Jesus and the kingdom, what do you make of it?
When I think of kingdom, I think of a government, of a king, soldiers, citizens, law and order, and vision. How about you?
Jesus is king. Christians are the citizens. Some citizens take up the duty to protect and defeat. Laws are established to reveal the Justice of God. And values such as peace and charity make up its vision. Though some kingdoms expand their presence into foreign territory. For the kingdom, it is true but it is not an act of imperialism. Rather, this is good news – great news because liberation is coming, and it comes through the form of a band of servants for change. It’s good news for those who recognize their oppression. In the ears of the helpless, an announcement of the arrival of a liberating kingdom inspires hope and it excites.
We, the church, are citizens of the kingdom of God, yet we live on foreign territory. But, we each have a duty to our king and kingdom to make our presence known, to share with people who we are and what we believe, and to extend the invitation to our way of life. We bring to this world around us news of freedom, peace, and healing. The mission of the kingdom of God is to make its rule and reign recognized, and that people would give up their citizenship and transfer it to this kingdom of life. In essence, this is an exchange from one way of life to another. This new kind of life takes on new values and a new vision. We’re not seeking to dominate and convert by force, instead we assimilate and befriend. We hope they can taste and see that our way is good, that it is so satisfying they’re compelled to abandon all they ever thought was right and true. When this takes places, our mission is accomplished.
I see it as an image of what the world should be. It’s a picture people can gaze upon and admire. It’s a work of grace and remarkable beauty. Even in the fallibleness there’s something desirable in this unfinished piece of work. Like a Monet’s painting, when you look too close, you can’t make anything meaningful out of it. But if you take a step back, when you take a look at the bigger picture, everything seems to make much more sense. Before your eyes, it comes alive.
The kingdom has a kind of its own culture. It’s a sub-culture. It has its own beliefs, values, vision, way of thinking, way of life. Kingdom citizens then are a people who are counter-cultural to the world around them. They are non-conformists. Instead, they seek to transform. When confronted with a foreign view, practice, custom, they evaluate and decide to either reject or redeem. They don’t try to be different for difference sake. But, part of their identify is glorifying God and representing the kingdom well. One source that serves as the foundation for their beliefs is known as the Scriptures. Scripture forms the identity of the kingdom culture.
The kingdom of God reigns supreme over all other kingdoms. One day everyone who have ever caught a breath of air will see and recognize the ruler-ship and sovereignty of the kingdom. As for today, it exists to proclaim the realization of it. The choice given is to either accept and join or reject and rebel. Kingdom citizens are conduits of this message. They take pride in their citizenship, and so they wish for everyone to receive this message of the kingdom with joy. And because they love their “country”, they cannot love another. Kingdom citizens are anti-pro-secular-government because they are pro-God’s-kingdom.