Monday, December 12, 2011

What is the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God is undoubtedly one of the  most challenging ideas in the Scriptures. We ask where is the kingdom? what does it look like? how does one get into it? Is the kingdom here now? or is the Kingdom of God something in the future? Each term that we use in trying to describe the kingdom while accurate, is incomplete.

For many of us who have grown up in the church, we have been befuddled by messages that we heard concerning the Kingdom of God. Look at these two popular hymns that you probably sang at some time in your church experience: "THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME" AND "THIS IS MY FATHER'S WORLD."

These two hymns embody the  paradoxical teachings concerning the Kingdom of God. One sees the world as a barren wasteland in which the christian should have as little to do as possible, while the other views the world as a place where cultural transformation is certainly the call for all christians.

How then should the Christian live in this world? Does the christian avoid the world, sequester himself, live as a hermit, dare not touch or taste the things of this world for fear of contamination.

 Or should the christian be consumed in transforming the culture as apart of kingdom activity? Should the christian be concerned with societies ills: the poor, the homeless, the sick and needy?

The answer to these questions have caused much conflict within the body of Christ. I would answer this question by stating that we are to do both. We recognize that we live in a fallen world that is tainted by sin---however we continue to practice kingdom principles while we live in this fallen world. This in another one of those paradoxes, while the world is in a fallen state it is also our Father's world; where the "birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare the maker's praise."

One of the best ideas that I've come across that  can help us understand the paradox of the idea of the Kingdom of God is this: the kingdom is "already and "not yet" it is all about balance, balance, balance, and more balance, now notice I'm not saying compromise, but balance.

The Scripture is filled with paradoxes, and some knotty and hard teachings: God's love and anger, the sovereignty of God and man being a free moral agent, you have to die to live, and the kingdom is here now, but it is not yet.

In order to understand the Bible's teaching concerning the Kingdom, we must see the kingdom as a process. In the Old Testament the Kingdom was largely limited to "peoples and lands of Israel." In the New Testament the Kingdom extended to "all peoples and all lands."

In the New Testament we see the inauguration of the Kingdom with the coming of Christ. At the baptism of Jesus; both John and Jesus declared that the Kingdom of God is now at hand or near (Matt. 3:2: 4:17; Mk. 1:15).

We now are living in the continuation of the inauguration. The kingdom of God (His reign) is active and spreading.

The last phase to this process will be the consummation of the Kingdom. The consummation is a future event when all of the promises of total transformation will become a reality (Daniel. 2:44, 7:13-14, 22).

So, how do we get into God's Kingdom? Matthew 3:2 give us the answer, the word is repent. We must be willing to surrender ourselves to the rule of the King. We must be willing to follow the way of the king. We must be willing to yield our autonomy and live under the authority of the King.

Kingdom living here and now manifests itself with a yielded life, a surrendered will, and a bowed knee to the King. Kingdom living here and now is simply coming under the reign and rule of King Jesus.

Our God we thank you for being our King, we willing yield our lives to you, recognizing you as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

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