Monday, January 18, 2010


Jesus talked a lot about 'kingdom'. The kingdom of heaven is like... Gospel of the kingdom... Thy kingdom come... The kingdom of heaven is at hand... Seek first the kingdom of God...
Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionary expands the Greek word to: “ properly royalty, that is, (abstractly) rule, or (concretely) a realm (literally or figuratively): - kingdom, + reign.

In Jesus' time, the idea of kingdom was relevant and easily understandable, although the image wasn't always a positive one. The Jews had a history of some good, benevolent kings, and some despots. In the time of Christ, the Jews were under the rulership of Rome, and well understood the concept.

However, as Jesus said, his kingdom was not of this world. His rulership would gain power and influence as his subjects put themselves under it, and promoted the lifestyle of their chosen king.

In our present experience, the idea of 'kingdom' lacks the potential excitement it would have brought to Jesus' hearers. Most kings in our memory are either powerless figureheads, or dictators.

So in “The secret message of Jesus” Brian McLaren suggests some other images that might better picture the wonder and power of what Jesus was announcing.

  • The dream of God. It has always been God's intent that his creation enjoys all he has given us. After all, Dr. Martin Luther King was only echoing the heart of God when he said: “I have a dream.” 
  •  The revolution of God. Restoring life to its intended fullness will require some drastic changes. But it will be a revolution of love, not violence.  
  • The mission of God. This thought echoes the concept of the church being 'missional'. Actively involed in the various works of Jesus. 
  • The party of God. Not as in a political party, but a birthday party.
  • The network of God. The place we can all connect, be a community.
  • The dance of God. The dynamic rhythm, movement, cooperation of us along with God.

I like these pictures. They still point to God, to his reign, but add depth and breadth, color and texture, taste and smell.

As we start looking at the Beatitudes, keep some of these pictures in mind.


Luke said...


I really like this post and the ways to think about the kingdom. In worship class, my instructor was all about inclusive language and updating the ol' ways of speaking into modern terms. she used the "kin-dom" of God. i really like that model as I don't really view God as king. sure God is sovereign, but a "king unlike any other" doesn't really fit the definition. too much free will involved ;-)

Al said...

Thanks for 'kin-dom', Luke.

Jesus uses so many different pictures to give glimpses into the kind of relationship we can enjoy with him, and with each other. Family is certainly a big one.

I think the more we can see the united-ness (even in diversity, or especially in diversity), the more we act kindly towards each other.

but it ain't always easy!!

Jonathan said...

Hi, I just found your blog from your comment over at losing my religion. You said you came in late on this conversation... we'll from the looks of your blog I think I joined in even later. Anyways, looks like you've got some good stuff here, another blog to read.

It just clicked with me yesterday a difference between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel I've heard most frequently preached.

The usual gospel message emphasizes Jesus in the past who paid for our sin so we can be with Jesus in the future. The gospel of the kingdom focuses on how we relate to Jesus now and how He wants to work in and through us now.

God bless!

Peter said...

I tend to be such a narcissist with my blogging - I rarely spend enough time at all my friends' blogs. I'm blessed every time I read yours, and am refreshed by this post! Keep up the great work!

Al said...

Welcome Jonathan!
New blood is always welcome (It's tastier, you know!)

I expect most of us start looking for the door as we begin to notice the disparity and disconnect between Jesus and 'the church'. It's different things that bring us to that place, but the response is similar--we start looking to see if anybody else is feeling what we are beginning to feel. That's where technology steps in to lend a hand...

I like what you say in your profile: "I just seek to clarify what the main gospel message is." I'll bet we are on a similar page.

Looking forward to getting to know you.

Al said...

Jonathan--I also wanted to comment on your great take on past and future vs. present. I guess it is easier to line up our theology with a past event, and make whatever kind of guesses as to a future event (that we aren't really accountable for) than to actually be involved in the present--and yet Jesus' teaching and action was so anchored in the present.

Thanks for that!


count web site traffic
Staples Coupon