24 Feb What is the Kingdom of God? Part 1
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” –Matthew 6:10
At its simplest, the Kingdom of God is the result of God’s mission to rescue and renew His sin-marred creation. The Kingdom of God is about Jesus our King establishing His rule and reign over all creation, defeating the human and angelic evil powers, bringing order to all, enacting justice, and being worshiped as Lord.
Tragically, there are many erroneous views of the Kingdom that misrepresent the glories of God’s eternal Kingdom. The Kingdom is not like the cartoonish inanity that shows Heaven as a white cloud upon which we will sit wearing diapers and playing harps with wings far too small to carry us anywhere fun. The Kingdom is not the naïve progressive dream, that with more education and time sin and its effects will be so eradicated from the earth that utopia will dawn.
The Kingdom is not the deceptive dream of Christless spirituality where all learn to nurture the spark of divinity within themselves and live out their true good self in harmony. The Kingdom is not the political dream that if we simply get the right leaders in office and defeat all the bad guys good will rule the earth.
The Kingdom is both a journey and a destination, both a rescue operation in this broken world and a perfect outcome in the new earth to come, both already started and not yet finished. This distinction is incredibly important. When the already-ness of the Kingdom is overly stressed, the result is an over-realized eschatology. In this case, the presence and power of sin are not fully accounted for, and there is a naive belief that life should be enjoyed with health and wealth, as if the Kingdom has already been fully unveiled, and a sort of simplistic optimism sets in.
Conversely, when the not-yet-ness of the kingdom is overly stressed, the result is an underrealized eschatology. In this case, sin seems to be at least as powerful as the gospel and there is little hope or enthusiasm for evangelism, church planting, or opposing injustice in the world, and a sort of hopeless fatalism sets in.
God does not want us to be naïve, as if the Kingdom is fully here. And God does not want us to be hopeless, as if the Kingdom has not yet begun. The Kingdom has come and is coming. God will work His rescue not by obliterating the physical earth but by recreating it. He will use humans, who are part of the problem as well as part of the solution, to bless, redeem, and restore. In all this we are not observers of a divine drama but participants helping with the redemption, each playing the role God has assigned for us to play in making the invisible Kingdom visible.
What are you most looking forward to when Jesus returns and establishes His Kingdom?