Fresh language for Jesus’ kingdom

With other commitments, I won’t be posting much in December/January. Rest assured, I’ll still be pursuing my life-goal, seeking his kingdom.

The more I pursue this perspective, the more definitive it becomes as the framework that makes sense of everything. The whole Bible narrative fits together as the integrated, laser-focused story of God’s faithful kingship over the earth. We need fresh language to express this, language that communicates in our culture.

The tragedy of human history is the way we have grasped at the power of our sovereign and therefore acted abusively against each other. That’s why our world is suffering in a kind of self-inflicted exile. Our heavenly sovereign responded by sending his Son not to quash this rebellion but to lead the exiles back home under his care.

This is the best news! It’s the restoration of everything that’s wrong, so creation becomes what our Creator intended. It’s the end of injustice and oppression and abuse and every form of evil. Our sovereign achieves this through his enigmatic use of power: confronting the abusive powers at his cross and dying at their hands, to be raised up and given the kingship from the hands of our eternal sovereign.

On his behalf, we call everyone to turn from rebellion to allegiance (traditionally called repentance and faith.) We need fresh ways to tell this story in our culture and in our time.

Why? So many aspects of our culture conspire against us, hindering our understanding the good news (the gospel of the kingdom):

  • Our postmodern world mistrusts grand overarching stories (metanarratives), suspecting that these stories serve the interests of power (including the power of the church). There are good historical reasons for this suspicion. The church doesn’t have a credible story unless we’re following the power of the powerless one (crucified). They’ll have to see us enacting the message we declare: his kingdom coming to the poor, the powerless inheriting the earth.
  • Our democratic world mistrusts the power of kings. Truth is, we still have rulers, and we deeply mistrust the politicians who focus more on getting their party re-elected than on representing their people. Christians represent a different kind of king: one who built no palaces or fortresses to protect himself, a voluntarily homeless human (son-of-man), rejected in a world where even animals (foxes and birds) have places to belong. This king gave his life to alleviating the suffering of his people, quite literally in the end. He calls his people to do the same.
  • Our individualistic culture focuses on the self, so I’m encouraged to move on from anything or anyone that hinders me being my best self. This struggle disconnects us from each other, leaving us feeling alienated. By contrast, God’s kingdom is inherently communal, working to restore the whole human community under God, where everyone belongs and no one falls through the cracks. The king who gave himself for us reverses the direction of our lives, from focus on the self to creating loving community. And yes, we get hurt when we love, just as he did. Forgiveness and reconciliation are really tough. But is it worth it? His love inspires us to live for something more than the self, the restoration of the human community under God (the kingdom of God).

Can you help us find the words to express Jesus’ kingdom hope in language that works in our culture? Every generation faces this task afresh.

It’s challenging, but nothing could be more exhilarating or momentous than the restoration of God’s world under his kingship. We’re restored as we give our loyalty to the king who declared, “They’ll recognize you as my people when you love.”

Author: Allen Browne

Seeking to understand Jesus in the terms he chose to describe himself: son of man (his identity), and kingdom of God (his mission). Riverview Church, Perth, Western Australia

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