The Kingdom That Is Jesus

In the second Chapter of Gregory Boyd’s challenging book, Myth of a Christian Nation goes into detail using verses from the New Testament to illustrate what living in the Kingdom of God as opposed to the kingdoms of this world looks like. This key chapter could be re-read many times, because it shows what a Christian really should be and do.  He uses numerous bible verses; so many that I cannot list them all so I will not list any.

It begins with a quote from the Gospel of Luke chapter 6: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. It says succinctly what a Christian is to do, love everyone, serve your enemies and pray the people exploit you. These things don’t come easy, yet they are the very things that Jesus did and calls us to do as his followers. Jesus doesn’t want mere pew sitters who sing hymns wonderfully one day a week and spend the rest of the week doing whatever they want; He wants people who will live with the same heart of Jesus. In the first sentence Boyd writes, “The heart of Jesus’ teaching was the Kingdom of God.” He goes on, “…in Jesus the domain in which God is king has been introduced into the world. The central goal of Jesus’ life was to plant the seed of this new Kingdom so that, like a mustard seed, it would gradually expand. Jesus planted the seed of the Kingdom of God with his ministry, death, and resurrection and then gave to the church, the body of all who submit to his lordship, the task of embodying and living out this distinct kingdom. We are to be nothing less than ‘the body of Christ,’ which means, among other things, that we are to do exactly what Jesus did.”

Boyd further develops his idea about living the teachings of Jesus on the Kingdom of God. This is what it looks like to live the Kingdom: become as children, God washes feet, healing the enemy, love, service, and prayer. He uses key New Testament verses from the Gospels and the epistles to attest to all of this. “Jesus taught what he lived and lived what he taught, so we shouldn’t be surprised to find Calvary-type love pervading his teaching. Jesus is giving us a way we can keep from being defined by those who act unjustly toward us.” Boyd mentions how both Martin Luther King jr. and Gandhi both captured the heart of Jesus’ ethic of loving one’s enemy.

At the end of this challenging and insightful chapter Boyd contrasts the two kingdoms—the one of this world and God’s. A contrast of trust—the kingdom of the world trusts power of the sword while the Kingdom of God trusts the power of the cross.  A contrast of aims—the kingdom of the world seeks to control behavior while the Kingdom of God seeks to transform lives from the inside out. A contrast of scopes—the kingdom of the world is intrinsically tribal in nature while the Kingdom of God is intrinsically universal, centered on loving as God loves. A contrast of responses—the kingdom of the world is tit-for-tat while the Kingdom of God returns evil with good, turns the other cheek, goes the second mile, loves and prays for everyone including our enemies. A contrast of battles—the kingdom of the world has earthly battles and fights earthly battles, while the Kingdom of God has no earthly enemies for its disciples are committed to loving their enemies treating them as friends, as neighbors.

Boyd ends the chapter with a powerful sentence: However right we may be, without love we are simply displaying a religious version of the world, not the Kingdom of God.

If you were to read a single chapter of this book this is the chapter I would suggest. A sermon series or a bible study could be build around this chapter alone. This chapter is a short, powerful, insightful, challenging exploration of the Kingdom of God.

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