Should I move on to something new, a topic other than the kingdom of God?
A couple of people have commented that they’re hearing the same thing no matter which text I’m talking about. Is it time to move on to something different? Continue reading “And now for something completely different?”
In this post, we consider some other views of what kingdom work could be.
In our last post, we defined kingdom work as “implementing communal life under the king.” In this post, we’ll consider other views on what kingdom work could be.
Since we have limited time and resources, the king’s tasks are our priority. We don’t want to be tangled in tasks that are tangents.
So, let’s evaluate some common proposals. (Skip to Proposal 5 if you wish.)
Continue reading “Alternative views of our role in his kingdom”
What constitutes kingdom work?
Kingdom work is a catchphrase for everything from social justice to church fund raising. But does it mean to work for the kingdom?
At the simplest level, kingdom work is doing what the king wants done.
We just need to be clear about what the king wants us to do. Is it individual piety, or getting people saved? Is it doing church work, or exposing injustice in society? Or is there no such thing as kingdom work, because the kingdom comes from God’s work, not ours? You’ll find people advocating all those positions.
How do we find out what the king wants done? The New Testament could provide some insight: Continue reading “What is our role in his kingdom?”
When you hear the word “gospel”, do you think of God’s kingship being restored on the earth? Jesus did.
Jesus’ gospel was different to ours. Here’s how the Gospels summarize his message and mission:
Matthew 9 35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
Luke 4 43 He said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
What is the gospel of the kingdom? How is it different to a gospel of personal forgiveness? Jesus’ gospel is on a different scale — the difference between liberating a prisoner and liberating a planet. Continue reading “What is the gospel of the kingdom?”
All our fuzziness about the kingdom becomes clear when we ask, “Who is the king?”
Here’s a single question to clarify Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom: Who is the king?
That question has two answers:
- God is king. It’s the kingdom of God.
- Christ is king. God entrusted his kingship on earth to his anointed (Christ).
Our heavenly sovereign doesn’t impose his rule on us; he exercises his reign through us. He designed us to be images of his dominion, for the benefit of all the creatures on earth (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8).
That’s why God promised to restore his reign through humans, through Abraham’s family. When Israel asked for a king, God agreed to have a son of David representing his reign on earth (2 Samuel 7:11-16). God’s reign is through “the Lord and his anointed” (Psalm 2:2).
So Jesus is God’s Anointed (the Christ). But Jesus rarely promoted himself. If we don’t realize that he’s talking about his own kingship, his kingdom teaching can sound cryptic.
Continue reading “Who is the king?”
Here’s a single-sentence definition.
In the next five posts, we’ll cover the basics:
- What is the kingdom?
- Who is the king?
- What is the gospel of the kingdom?
- How does the kingdom come?
- What is our role in his kingdom?
Each post will conclude with a one-sentence answer.
Jesus built his theology around the kingdom of God. But is that a central theme in the epistles? Even the most basic texts come to life through this lens.
Continue reading “The significance of kingdom in New Testament letters”
We got stuck on when God’s kingdom comes, instead of who is king.
In the last two centuries, studies on the kingdom of God got bogged down in debate over when the kingdom comes. Is it already present now, or is it something Jesus will set up when he returns?
Wrong question: focusing on the When has obscured the Who. Continue reading “Who, not when”
After eight years on this topic, I’m attempting a simple definition:
The kingdom of God is: earth living as the community under divine governance.
At the most basic level, kingdom implies two entities in relationship: a king, and the community under his reign. In the kingdom of God, God is king, and all the people and creatures on earth live as the community under his governance.
Clear enough? Can we now reframe our message to match what Jesus proclaimed? We would focus on just two things: the community, and the king.
Continue reading “What is the kingdom of God?”
If the gospel is good news for the whole world, what’s it like to live the gospel? Surely it’s the best life we could possibly have?
That’s true in the long term. Life under Jesus’ kingship is indeed the best life earth could ever know. There will be no more selfishness when the poor inherit the kingdom, no more abuse of power when the meek inherit the earth.
But in the short term, it’s not quite so simple. Can we live selflessly while people take advantage of us? What happens if we live powerlessly in the face of abusive powers? Won’t we get crucified?
Continue reading “Living in the cross-hairs”
Some of my friends think Jesus’ kingdom vision was unrealistic, something we can never achieve until he returns and forces the world to submit.
I think they’re wrong. Two reasons:
Continue reading “Was Jesus’ kingdom vision realistic?”
What about when people’s experience of hope is falsehood?
Pain can crush hope. Injustice and inhuman oppression squeeze the life out of us, so we yearn for release.
Continue reading “Living hope”
Border protection is a big deal for both sides of politics in Australia. Stop the boats. Turn back the people-smugglers who put lives at risk with their leaky boats. Block the undesirables who don’t share our values. Don’t let the queue-jumpers in.
For more than a decade, we’ve heard these mantras from our rulers. Their polling assures them that the hard-line approach wins votes.
At times we’ve been shocked to see images of the off-shore detention centres. We wonder if we’re justified to lock people up for years as a deterrent. We’re concerned when they’re reduced to self-harm.
Now, don’t get scared about where this is going. I’m not suggesting we all march on Canberra to demand a change of policy. I’m not writing to Canberra. I’m writing to you, a follower of Jesus. I want you to consider how Jesus sees these issues. Surely that’s what defines how we respond.
Continue reading “Refugees”
Should Christians be activists?
Good news! Jesus is the Christ. That means he’s chosen by heaven and anointed with power to rule the earth. He is restoring heaven’s government to a world that has been terrorized by competing claims and civil war ever since humans tried to take God’s power into their own hands.
This is good news for the world because it’s how the violent hostilities are replaced by divine peace. Peace can never be achieved through force. The cross is the ultimate paradox for solving violence. The all-powerful God placed himself at the centre of the battle for power, giving himself for his people, reconciling us to himself and to one another.
This is how hostilities end. The cross is God confronting human power claims. It’s how God restores peace, by uniting us under his governance (Ephesians 2:14-17).
What does that mean for earthly kingdoms?
Continue reading “Activism: is it kingdom work?”
What does it mean to be human?
To err is human, and I’m only human. The way we spin it, it sounds like being human is a liability. Perhaps we’re still seeking our identity. Continue reading “Humans as the king’s agents”
When God is king, earth is his kingdom.
As I write, I’m looking into a green forest, with an ocean in the distance. I’m on holidays, enjoying my children and grandchildren. It feels like the kind of wild natural extravagance and intimate communal joy God always intended for his earthly realm.
Continue reading “Earth as God’s kingdom”
Your relationship with God changes when you see God as king.
Theology might be the most difficult discipline: the subject is truly infinite. There are so many things you could say about God that it’s hard to know where to start.
Jesus said many things about God, but his Father’s kingship was at the heart of his message. His sketched stories of life under God’s kingship, the kingdom of God. He healed people to bring God’s kingship close. He gave his life to break the power of evil and restore earth to God’s reign. The heavenly sovereign raised him up from death to the throne — all authority in heaven and on earth.
With laser precision, everything Jesus said and did was focused on a singular truth: God is king. Continue reading “God is king”
Ever notice how the answers you receive in life depend on the questions you ask? On this blog, the questions we’re asking are not the typical ones you find in systematic theology. We’re asking why the kingdom of God was the centre of Jesus’ thought and practice. We’re asking what difference it would make if we made the kingdom of God the centre of our thought and practice too.
This year, I want to start addressing the “So what?” question. What difference does this perspective make? The difference is huge: the kingdom reframes everything!
God, humanity, Christ, sin and evil, atonement, the world, the church, salvation and restoration, evangelism, partnering with Holy Spirit, and the ultimate goal (end times) — everything looks different when viewed through the lens of the kingdom of God.
Worth exploring? Buckle up and hang on: this is where it gets interesting!
Continue reading “What difference does the kingdom make?”
Not sure what Jesus meant by his kingdom? We end up filling the gaps with things from our own culture.
Yesterday I visited another church and heard a nationally renowned speaker presenting via video. Among other texts, he used this one where Jesus defined our priority: Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).
The speaker did a good job of setting this verse in context. He explained that seeking God means much more than putting God first, and then adding other things to the same queue.
I was intrigued: his explanation simply ignored the kingdom bit. It was as if he thought Jesus had said, “Seek God first.” Continue reading “When the church doesn’t get the 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.
Continue reading “Fresh language for Jesus’ kingdom”