- 4 ASPECTS of JESUS’ VIEW of THE KINGDOM OF GOD
- The Kingdom of God was Jesus’ primary emphasis! It’s what he was about.
- Finding The Kingdom is the greatest gain, even now.
- It’s what ML King called “the Beloved Community” – not individualistic or isolated; it’s about God and all of us, and here and now.
- It’s not short-run; it is in reality the way it’s supposed to be now and the way it’s going to be in the long run.
- NAMES THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN MIGHT BE CALLED –
- ESSENTIAL QUALITIES OF THE KINGDOM of GOD –
“Seek first the Kingdom of God …” says Jesus. Ok. But how? Jesus emphasized this Kingdom much more than he did any sort of receiving him into one’s heart, or believing in him. Thus what he thought about The Kingdom might be a pretty important thing for us to know.
Maybe if we understood, we’d find it quite attractive. What DID Jesus say about the kingdom of God?
Here are four key aspects of how Jesus himself thought about the Kingdom. Then there’s a list of names other people have used for very similar ideas, and ways I like to think of it. It is kind of a big deal. Then there’s a short list of key characteristics of this Real Kingdom. And these are not “just” ideals. They are what God wants for us, and expects us to pursue.
4 ASPECTS of JESUS’ VIEW of THE KINGDOM OF GOD
The Kingdom of God was Jesus’ primary emphasis! It’s what he was about.
- From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Mt 4:17
- In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Mt 3:1,2
- the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, a chapter with a whole series of parables on the kingdom Mt 13
Finding The Kingdom is the greatest gain, even now.
- Pearl of great value: he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Mt 13:45-46
- Treasure in a field: in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Mt 13:44
- These illustrations are not about “eternal life” or “Heaven” you notice, but about The Kingdom of God. How would Jesus’ 1st Century hearers have taken it? They LIVED in “kingdoms.” They knew the illustration.
It’s what ML King called “the Beloved Community” – not individualistic or isolated; it’s about God and all of us, and here and now.
- It has fundamental moral (or relational, or justice) characteristics, that Jesus repeatedly emphasized.
- Where IS the Kingdom of God? Lk 17:20-21 Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (or: “the kingdom of God is in you”)
- Jesus frequently taught about justice between people, justice, which is truly “love in public”. See post here: Was Social Justice Part of Jesus’ Message? Oh Yes. 4 Scriptures.
- Mt 25:31-46 the King judging the nations, is strongly, bluntly about the Gospel – the way of salvation – being a matter of justice, of social relationships.
It’s not short-run; it is in reality the way it’s supposed to be now and the way it’s going to be in the long run.
- The Gospel of John almost ignores the idea of a kingdom of God. He deals with it as faith – a heart investment in the eternal quality of life that Jesus exemplified and taught.
- the Lord’s Prayer tells us to pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth.”
NAMES THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN MIGHT BE CALLED –
a list of synonyms – or, a definition of the Kingdom of God. Keep in mind, after all, that Jesus called it a Kingdom, not a “Pleasure Palace” or “Resort Destination.” A kingdom is a functional SOCIETY – a moderately healthy kingdom is a moderatly healthy SOCIETY – which over the millenia some kingdoms have been and some have not. But I bet the Kingdom of Jesus, OF GOD, is supremely healthy and a wonderful place to be living. Awesome! And Jesus said to go after it NOW – that it is available NOW!
- The Kingdom of God
- The Kingdom of Heaven,
- The Beloved Community,
- God’s governmental system,
- God’s better economy,
- Divinely supported ways of living together in society,
- The overall value system that is actually effective for good
- The ultimate, and best, Authority,
- Spiritual Living – that is, the presence and free action of the underlying creating, empowering, good and wise Spirit,
- God’s intended world of Shalom – peace and prosperity,
- The quality of life from and suited to eternity, and thus to life after death.
Are there one or two of these names you particularly like? I really like #7.
ESSENTIAL QUALITIES OF THE KINGDOM of GOD –
priorities of the True and Good Kingdom:
- livability, not financial gain
- love and service, not greed, power-lust, and violence
- shalom, not war
- integrity and openness, not fraud, deceit, propaganda, corruption and manipulation
- freedom for cooperation among all humans to be becoming ever more fully human, not freedom for narrow groups of the most wealthy and powerful to do whatever they want
- a healthy environment for all of life, not temporary comfort and pleasure for a small minority of humans
- to be sought now, not just in an unrealized future
- it grows, is not imposed
Are there one or two of these qualities you think are particularly needed these days?
You might be able to make better lists – or add some items. But these are lovely things. Things we NEED!! And WANT!! Right? Our current “normal” worldly systems of operation could use some extensive reformation in the light of these better principles.
And don’t say kingdom characteristics are only ideals,
or should only be focused on much later. Jesus said it’s near NOW (Mt 4 “Repent, for the Kingdom is at hand.”). Jesus said to seek them NOW (Mt 7 “Seek first the kingdom.”). Jesus said to be practicing them NOW (Mt 25 list of Kingdom behaviors). Jesus said to ask for them NOW (Mt 6 “Thy Kingdom come.”).
The Pearl, the Buried Treasure
I love it that Jesus used the parables of a “pearl of great price,” and of a treasure buried in a field. Imagine someone whose land (and fortune) were being threatened – maybe by an invader, maybe by a local thief. So they took a good chunk of their valuables, including coins, and buried them in hopes of coming back to retrieve them. But they never made it back. Similar things happened with some frequency in the centuries and even decades before Jesus’ ministry. Then imagine some contemporary of Jesus finding one of those abandoned caches of treasure. Wow. Heart rate goes up!
These stories – the pearl, the buried treasure – show the intense longing that should be present as we contemplate this most excellent Kingdom. That, after all, really IS the greatest Treasure. Jesus knew and emphasized the longing, AND the active, focused effort we should be engaged in, already and in all the days to come in our lives. Ahh. Let’s act like it. Let’s embrace and pursue it.
See also, on this site:
God’s New Economy – Crucial Fact 4 of 4
Let’s Build The Kingdom. Jesus said, “Seek Ye First The Kingdom of God.”
4 Basic Facts for Understanding Life – Beauty, Damage, Costly Grace, Kingdom of God