It struck me a while ago that Jesus’s primary message when he was here on earth is not always reflected in the primary message of the church. We are his body after all, shouldn’t we fall into line with the head? What could I possibly mean?
Jesus spent a large percentage of his time both demonstrating and teaching about the Kingdom of God. Many churches spend a large percentage of their time talking about salvation and eternal life. Now don’t get me wrong here. Both are absolutely vital in our walk with God but let me suggest the latter is merely the entrance to the former.
The main message Jesus repeats again and again within the gospels is “Repent for the Kingdom of God is close at hand” or similar derivatives. He meant that it was now possible to reach and touch a new Kingdom. The reason people should turn their hearts to God was that this new Kingdom had arrived! After this bold statement he then proceeds to demonstrate what this Kingdom looks like through signs and wonders. Signs point to something, that something is this superior Kingdom. His teaching always tells us what it looks like in this superior reality. So what do we mean by the Kingdom of God? A simple definition that I like is: the rule and reign of God. Another way of describing it is the Kings Dominion (a more direct splitting of the word Kingdom would give kings domain, but domain suggests a geographic area alone). Sickness being healed and demons being cast out was a direct signpost towards the fact that a greater reality had just overcome the natural reality.
When asked how to pray, Jesus tells his disciples to pray that earth would experience more of the Kingdom just like is being experienced in heaven. This reveals the heart of God in so many areas. Apart from praising our Father and praying for our own needs the way we are told to impact the world is through seeing the Kingdom of God established here on earth. I hear heaven is a pretty incredible place! It is the blueprint for life here on earth. This can seem like a pipe dream with unrealistic expectations if you don’t realise that God never commissions without also giving the means to achieve the mission. When he encountered Paul on his way to Damascus and called him to take the message of the Kingdom outside of the Jewish community he also gave him his strength and power to achieve this seemingly impossible task. The same can be said of all the heroes in the bible. Surely there are limits to what we can achieve though? I’m not sure I see the artificial limits we sometimes imagine within the bible. Instead I see Jesus telling his disciples to ask for anything in his name. I also see God reminding us that impossibilities are his speciality! The model God gives seems to be from Glory to Glory. Start to dream with me. What would it look like for the Kingdom of God to come more and more?
If you still struggle with the idea of transforming this planet I would encourage you to study the life of some of the incredible men and women who have changed this planet through partnership with God in the last 2000 years. If you think that the church of Acts was a high watermark I humbly suggest you investigate more of Christian history! I don’t mean to suggest our Christian heroes were perfect but the things they achieved through faith in God are incredible. Entire cities have been saved, millions healed, thousands saved from poverty and millions have come to call God their father. What would would it look like for a generation within the church to arise with the conviction that we are carriers of a superior Kingdom.
My heart burns to see the Kingdom of God become a more common message within the church. The goal is not salvation and then a life spent running from sin until we can escape into perfection. God has made us co-heirs with Christ and has given us an appointment to expand his Kingdom. A superior reality that transforms this world more and more until we start to see heaven in our midst. This is not just a good idea it is one of the primary messages of Jesus. Let’s become this message, ’til Kingdom come.