If you had to sum up what it is Jesus preached and taught in the three years he ministered, you could say it was the Kingdom of God. The phrase “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven” appears over 100 times in the four gospels. We pray for it every time we say the Lord’s prayer, “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Our Foundation of Faith Building Blocks describe the Kingdom this way:
The Kingdom of God is the rule of God breaking into history through Jesus Christ, working in the world and expressed in the hearts and lives of God’s people.
What makes a Kingdom? A Kingdom requires a King, a rule, a people, and a place. The people of the Bible proclaim in both Old and New Testaments that God is King, the sovereign ruler of all life. God rules by way of his law and decree we find in scripture. God’s people are those whom he makes promises to (covenants). God’s place is… anywhere the will of God is done is part of God’s Kingdom, and eventually, everywhere.
The Kingdom of God is not a place you can find on map. It has no borders. It has different rules than kingdoms of this world. Wherever and whenever God reigns, whenever and wherever God’s power shows up to do God’s will… is the Kingdom of God.
Of course, in our world where sin continues to compete against God, there are alternative Kingdoms that would demand our allegiance; kingdoms political, cultural, economic, and social. Sometimes we try and make kings of ourselves, but no one is without a ruler and a rule. No one is without a people they have some kind of allegiance to. For disciples of Christ, our task is to recognize Jesus as Lord… our king.
Jesus describes the Kingdom as a world where the poor hear good news, prisoners are released, the blind can see, and the oppressed know that they are loved by God (Luke 4:18-19). God’s kingdom is about healing, peace, freedom, and love. A lawyer once approached Jesus and asked him what the most important of God’s laws were, Jesus said it was to, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” When the lawyer understood and agreed, Jesus said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:28-34)
The Kingdom of God is more than just a guide on “how to live”. The Kingdom of God is about an entirely different world to live in.
Jesus favorite way to teach people about the Kingdom of God was to tell stories, or parables. Parables are fictional stories to pique your curiosity and get your brain working. They’re often strange stories, surprising, and sometimes exaggerated in order to make a complicated point. There are famous parables like The Good Samaritan or The Prodigal Son, and other less known parables where Jesus simply compares the Kingdom of God to everyday household items: coins, seeds, bread, jars. These are images to get us thinking about an abstract concept: the reign and rule of God in a world that seems to be ruled by competing powers.
Biblical scholar N.T. Wright puts it this way, ““Many people assume Jesus came to give good advice … but instead, Jesus proclaimed a new way of life and a new way to look at power in the world.”
Jesus didn’t just teach about the Kingdom of God. His entire life and purpose was to bring and build the Kingdom by conquering the powers of this world: sin, death, and evil. But when we look around, there still seem to be so many unholy kings and kingdoms. Jesus told us two things: the Kingdom is both here and near, but the Kingdom is also still coming. We are in between two worlds where we can see glimpses of God’s reign, but we are still waiting for God to come and completely reign over this world. Until that day, its our job to live in God’s Kingdom with our church and our lives… until eventually the entire universe becomes God’s Kingdom again.
Journaling Questions this Week:
- Why is the Kingdom of God something so treasured?
- Where have you seen God’s Kingdom in this world?
- Pray the Lord’s prayer very slowly: pray a line, then pause for a moment. What kinds of things do you hear God say to you as you say each line?