Friday, September 16, 2011

Where is the Kingdom of God?

The old arguments--is the kingdom a realm or reign?--place the issue of God's kingdom within a false dichotomy, as if we have to decide whether we are the means or the ends of the kingdom work. Those who emphasize that Jesus came to reign tend to place the locus of that reign within Christians, spiritualizing the kingdom. Those who say that Jesus was talking about the kingdom as a certain place (realm) often reduce the kingdom to societal/political efforts--as if we must establish structures (or counter-measures) to build the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. In other words, we want to know "how" to effect the kingdom, and the methods seem to depend upon whether we argue for reign or realm.

But, I'm beginning to wonder if we're missing the reality of the kingdom because it is indivisible. That is to say, the kingdom cannot be a reign without a realm, or a realm without a reign. Or, to put it another way, the kingdom of God is relational (much like the Trinity). That 's what I see when I try to have ears to hear Jesus' parables. He was doing more than "explaining" the kingdom, he was inaugurating the kingdom (through word and deed)--through words by creating worlds of meaning, through deeds by giving meaning to the world.

So, how do we become/do the kingdom? Here are a few ideas.

1. Give power away
2. Forgive debts (yes, even economic ones)
3. Eat with sinners
4. Believe in Jesus Christ
5. Worship the God of Israel
6. Heal the sick
7. Raise the dead
8. Serve the marginalized
9. Bless the cursed
10. Listen to the Spirit

What would you add?

Whenever we do/become these things, we see the kingdom come.


Joey V. said...

Your list scares me, and that is pitiful I think.

diane denton said...

I would add that we eat with real people, with real life issues and treat them with respect. Miroslave Volf states in the Christian Century that even those that we so disagree with that we should love them. Whether that is crossing religious boundaries, cultural boundaries, etc. It is a hard thing for us to meet people where they are at and develop a relationship that is authentic. It is out of fear and out of our comfort zone to do things different than what we know. I know I have been there. But when I take the risks to invite a stranger in, I find that I experience the opportunity to hear their story and love them if I choose.

diane denton said...

Another thought is that "kingdom life" is both. Kingdom life here on this earth is living life in Christ in "community" together. That is another area that we all as Christians can have the amazing opportunity to "walk with" one another....without judgment. We can take this amazing opportunity to experience life together in a more real, authentic way.