What is The Kingdom?
What can we say about the Kingdom?
Have you ever wondered what people mean when they say Kingdom of God or just Kingdom?
What exactly are they speaking about? We will assume they know, so let’s find out for ourselves.
I am no theologian or pastor, as of this writing I have not even stepped foot in seminary, though that does loom on the horizon. I am just like you—a mere or simple Christian—just someone looking into this. I preface with this to let you, dear reader know that I may be wrong or that I may be overlooking or not including something.
Gregory Boyd calls the Kingdom “a beautiful revolution… looks like Jesus—loving, serving, sacrificing for all people, including enemies.” And Fredrick Buechner says, “The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams and our truest prayers come from. We glimpse it when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know. We catch sight of it when at some moment of crisis a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong.”
I like that. A beautiful, Jesus-like revolution that our stronger, better selves come from the Kingdom. The Kingdom is where we belong. It feels so right. There is a place where goodness, beauty, and wonder are the order the day that it is possible to live a beautiful revolution. That the wrongs, even those we do can and will be righted. It must be stressed that the Kingdom includes, but transcends heaven. The Bible says that our ultimate destiny is not a far-off celestial abode, but a new earth. The Bible ends with heaven coming down to Earth; God’s dwelling place will be with man. For me, that means heaven embraces my humanity that I don’t have to become ‘celestial’ in order to make the cut. That trusting Jesus to be who the Gospels say he is makes it possible to be the person I want to be, but am not.
We pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. That means that we are to be ambassadors of Heaven on earth. We are to bring the civilization of Heaven to earth in all that we say, do, and think. Our lives are to be compelling examples of what it looks like to follow Jesus. N. T. Wright makes it clear that when Paul says our citizenship is in heaven that is a Roman term. It does not mean we are going to a far off heaven, but that we are to be heaven on earth. That our very lives are to be what happens when heaven invades earth. This is not to deny a heavenly rest when we die, but to explain how we are to live while we are on earth. God will get his way. Earth will be crammed with heaven. God’s love and light will flood earth. There will be a new earth and a new heaven. Every tear will be wiped away. Suffering will not be known and war will not be done. That is our ultimate destiny. That is good news.
The Kingdom is a place and a way of being in the world in faith and grace. It matters how we live and our response to Jesus today is of upmost concern. As Joan Chittister says, “Our role in life is to bring the light of our own souls to the dim places around us.” When we do this, we are manifesting our part of the Kingdom of God and as more and more of us do this, more of the Kingdom will be seen until one day we will wake up and the whole universe is like Jesus.
John Caputo writes, “The Kingdom is found every time an offense is forgiven, every time a stranger is made welcome, every time an enemy is embraced, every time the least among us is lifted up, every time the law is made to serve justice, every time a prophetic voice is raised against injustice, every time the law and prophets are summed by love.”
I hope that helps to explain what the Kingdom is.
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