Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What is the kingdom?

To many Christians, the phrase “Kingdom of God” simply means “heaven” or the spiritual realm. But what did Jesus mean when he used it and its cognate the “Kingdom of Heaven”?

At the beginning of Mark’s gospel Jesus says, “The Kingdom of God has arrived. Change your ways and accept the good news.” He was not just telling them that he had a new way for them to get to heaven. He was announcing the arrival of God’s reign on earth—his plan to redeem an entire creation that had been damaged by sin.

This was about much more than avoiding hell or even atoning for sin. It was a new way of life now, under the authority of the Creator of the universe. But we’ve reduced Christianity to a few legal metaphors.

The church tends to see its mission as simply trying to get people to heaven.

But the Kingdom of God is much more. It is about asserting God’s rule in every area of this life. It is about bringing hope and healing to a world ripped apart by sin. It is about opposing evil in every form it takes.

N. T. Wright explains it, “This is what ‘the kingdom of God’ means: neither ‘going to heaven when you die’ nor ‘a new way of ordering earthly political reality,’ but something which includes and thoroughly transcends both.”

Becoming a Christian is not about a one-time transaction we make with God. It is about a new way of living. It is about opposing all rivals to God’s Kingdom. It is about undivided loyalty to the true King.

Jesus didn’t say, “If you want to be my disciple then you need to pray a short sinner’s prayer and try to be good.”

He said, “If you want to be my disciple then you must set aside your own agenda, consider your own life worthless for the sake of the Kingdom and then follow me wherever I lead you. And you must do this every day of your life.”

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy just to pay lip service to the Kingdom instead of letting it transform our lives.

We tend to do pretty much the same things we did before we “joined” the Kingdom and the same things people outside the Kingdom do. We may try to be a little more honest. We may try to be nicer to other people (as long as we’re not having a bad day). We may try to make room for some “religion” in our busy schedules.

But no one would mistake us for radicals, fanatics or revolutionaries.

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”

4 comments:

Peter Yokoyama said...

I believe that everyone already lives in the Kingdom of God, even including an infidel like me (my wife is a Buddhist). What a person with the knowledge of God can do is to make people aware of having been in the Kingdom already. Peace!

Anonymous said...

Don Johnson

My understanding is the Kingdom of God (Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew) is the Jesus movement. We enter it when we become disciples.

Russ Merritt said...

Amen! Thanks for the post. I stumbled upon your site by accident, but it was encouraging. May Christ's bride be vigilant in embracing Jesus's coming kingdom and opposing all forces that stand in the way.

"If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him."
- C.T. Studd

Pastor Rod said...

Russ,

Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you around from time to time.

Rod