Growing up I really did just about hear as many sermons as I had hot dinners. With two Sunday services, bible class, Sunday school, youth group, bible studies I heard a lot of messages from the bible.. Looking back if I was to distill from all of those sermons what the main message of Jesus was, it would have been all about “being born again.” Now “being born again” is an aspect of Jesus message in John’s Gospel and an important one, I am not playing down the significance of conversion and regeneration but over all its a small part of Jesus message and is dwarfed in comparison with one theme which dominates and lies behind just about everything Jesus says and equally importantly what he does. Jesus’ whole message and mission was focused on the Kingdom of God. Thinking back I think I only heard about the Kingdom of God either as being a synonym for heaven or in connection with “miraculous gifts.”
In Contrast for most of the last couple of years I have been thinking and reflecting on the Kingdom of God. I know that as we launch Mosaic Edinburgh more formally we need to be a community which reflects Jesus which means being a community obsessed by the Kingdom of God. Rather than going into detailed expositions about the Kingdom I wanted to layout the sort of main features of how I understand it at the moment
1. The Kingdom of God is essentially subversive, its purpose is to undermine and ultimately overthrow which also means its transformative, it wants to transform the status quo for individuals, for communities, culture and ultimately the whole of creation.
2. This assumes that the status quo is wrong, that things are not as they should be and the way they are is damaging to humanity and creation.
3. There is an alternative to the status quo, another Kingdom, another way of being human, and it is breaking into this present world, its a Kingdom which is orientated to God, inspired and enabled by Jesus and saturated and empowered by the Holy Spirit and has the power to bring the change we need and cannot effect ourselves.
4. This Kingdom rejects the normal means of overthrowing another regime, it rejects violence, military coups and even the ballot box. It subverts the world by living another story, a better story, a story which points to a different way of living, a story marked by the transforming grace and love of God. The Kingdom of God tells us there is counter cultural way of living and invites us to enter the Kingdom which paradoxically costs us nothing and yet everything.
5. The weapons of this kingdom are not swords or bullets but love, community, grace, transformation, forgiveness, peace, healing, justice, joy, against which ultimately there is no defence
6. The triumph of this Kingdom is guarantied not by our efforts but by God’s actions in the future but in the meantime we are to allow this Kingdom to break into the here and now by being a community which functions as God’s authorised audio visual illustration of what the Kingdom is like by embodying the kingdom as a individuals and as a community and expressing it in our actions and words. The Church’s mission is to be an alluring, enticing foretaste of the future. The church is to subvert and seduce the world by embodying the Kingdom.
7. This means the mission of the Church is wider than having large attendances in our buildings or even lots of people coming to faith (as important as those things can be as signs of the Kingdom”) The Church’s mission is to join God by the power of His Spirit in the way of His Son in His mission of transformation through the Kingdom. As God’s people we are tomorrows people, we are called to live the future of creation now and in doing so to entice and invite others to join us in that reality and work for its establishment/
So what do you think?
Have I missed out anything about the Kingdom and its meaning?
I’m troubled by the word “obsession” because for me it connotes the exclusion of all else other than the subject of the obsession; and throughout what you write is the thread of the kingdom of God breaking into our world our here and now. Which is the word picture I love and resonate with: the transformation, the overturning, the renewal. So I’m not arguing with your vision of the Kingdom of God, just struggling with that one word, “obsession”.
Have you been following the Atheist Prayer Experiment? See http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/atheistprayerexperiment/.
Grace & peace to you.
Obsession is one of those words which I think can have positive or negative connotations, like wicked. I like to think of the Kingdom as Jesus’ glorious obsession in the sense of it being his focus and prime purpose. I am sure “glorious obsession” comes from a well know spiritual writer, but I can’t remember who 😦