The kingdom of God that Jesus talked about is not the church. Neither is it what people call heaven.
Jesus talked about a kingdom of God on earth.
At the base of it, Jesus was talking about God’s rule on earth. When we sing “Our God Reigns”, that’s what we’re singing about, whether we actually think about it or not at the time. God is in control. God is in charge. God is king. In fact, he is king of kings. Sound familiar? This is the kingdom of God.
Some of the words of Jesus tell us that the kingdom of God is in place as of his incarnation. But other statements–and, in fact–our world situation lead us to believe that the kingdom is coming. In the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, he said, “Your kingdom come.”
Most of us resolve this bifurcation of already and not yet but following the lead of George Eldon Ladd and think of the kingdom as already-not yet. That is, God is ruling, but there is a progression underway that will see him establish full control eventually. Some see final state as coming in a crisis, like the world going up in smoke and being replaced by a new earth and sky.
It should be said that there are Christians out there who believe that God’s reign was completely and finally established in the ministry of Jesus on earth. Or perhaps in the conflagration of Jerusalem in AD 70. Those Christians are called preterists and I can go part way with them. People like me are called partial preterists. My position is on the spectrum of already-not yet. I believe God is establishing his rule already and has been for 2000 years.
I also believe I have a role to play in the process.
The hard part for me comes in when I try to think about what my role is:
- Am I a kingdom builder? Does God need me to help build his kingdom?
- Am I helping him in some way? Am I some kind of conduit?
- Am I a beachhead? Am I a little piece of God’s kingdom for the perusal of the world around me?
I haven’t figured it out. But I had a thought about it that is helping me a little bit.
Perhaps we Christians are to be little piercings into our world where the glory of God and his rule can shine through just a little bit.
Do you watch Fringe? You know how some people can see a little shimmer, a little glow when something or someone from the alternate universe is in our universe? Most people can’t see it. But those who can see it can tell. To everyone else, there is no discernible difference about something from the other universe.
In a way, we are creatures from another dimension living in the 3D world. We cannot sing, “This world is not my home”, because it is. It is our home. It’s our home. We live here.
But we are little pinpricks of God’s light shining into here, if we play our role properly.
Maybe it doesn’t make sense. But it’s a way better scenario that all the Left Behind crap.