The Kingdom of God: Living it out (Part 3)
We’ve now taken a very quick look at the theme of the kingdom of God as the unifying perspective of the Bible. But here we are, more than 2,000 years after I’ve said Christ ushered in the Kingdom of God. What’s wrong with this picture? Currently the church is living during the overlap of two ages. We’re living during a time when God is spreading His truth through people like you and me. We know that Jesus has won the final battle, so we work with confidence.
God’s big picture is much bigger than the salvation of my soul. God is renewing everything, as far as the curse is found. Christ had come to fulfill the message of the prophets and to usher in the olam haba, the great age to come. In this age to come, God’s love and justice would be brought to bear upon creation. God is out not only to restore His fallen images (though surely He is doing that!), but also to restore the world to rights, as N. T. Wright would say. This doesn’t just fit with the teaching that all authority belongs to Jesus, but actually gives it legs. As an example, my passion is teaching. Seeing the Kingdom as God’s rulership fully acknowledged on earth as it is in heaven nearly kills any thought of elitism a budding Christian educator might have.
One day Jesus will return to bring all that he started to a final, and dramatic climax. In the meantime, God’s people are to work toward the renewal of creation. This happens this the spreading of the gospel, acts of mercy, and justice. Whether it’s the study of theology or trigonometry, Bible or biology, preaching or painting, our goal as God’s royal image bearers is to spread the rule of God, both for his glory and our good. Ordained ministry isn’t necessarily more important to the Kingdom than is being a good and just tire mechanic. The point is that if you are fair and just in your pricing, if you seek to serve God’s images, then as a tire mechanic you are reflecting God’s reign in your sphere of work. This is the type of thing young Christian people need to hear. Too often they are lead to believe that only in ministry can they truly work for the kingdom, and that is nonsense.
Closing observations. Kingdom theology gives us with large enough “thought boxes” to make much sense out of various Christian ministries. We strive for social justice. Why? Because the kingdom is more, not less, than the salvation of the individual. It’s about displaying the mercy of God toward the downtrodden and his justice for those who have been wronged (as Christ indicated in Luke 4 and James). We paint and make music as Christians. Why? Because God created the world to display the splendor of His beauty and we, as created in his image, are to cultivate the world and beautify it. We study science because we are stewards over God’s world and must understand the world and it’s details if we are to subdue it to the glory of God and the good of his people. The list could go on and on indefinitely, but the point is that ordained ministry and common labor are enlivened when every endeavor is seen as a channel through which God’s kingdom is manifest in his creation. And surely one day, the earth and God’s throne room will appear identical.