I truly wish I could articulate better what I truly believe in the deepest part of my soul about the Kingdom of God. N.T. Wright helps me. He articulates the vision of the Kingdom in a way I understand… but then I try to repeat it… and… ugh.
There is so much to “undo” in my old truncated view of “salvation” and the “kingdom of God.” There is so much to unpack in understanding what the Kingdom of God truly is in this world. Compounding all of this is the desire to unpack it not only in my life but in the lives of believers around me so we don’t keep limping along in the American church.
So, I will try to let N.T. Wright unpack a little more. This is from a commentary on Revelation 11:
Revelation, like its main biblical prototype (the book of Daniel), is all about the kingdom of God—which is, in my experience, one of the most misunderstood themes in the whole Bible. Far too many Christians have understood ‘the kingdom’ simply in terms of ‘God’s kingdom in heaven’, meaning by that that God is in charge in a place called ‘heaven’ (as opposed to this messy place called ‘earth’, from which God wants to rescue us), and that the main aim of life is to ‘enter the kingdom of heaven’ in the sense of ‘going to heaven when you die’. Perhaps one of the many reasons why Revelation has been literally a closed book for so many, and for so much of the church, is that it powerfully and dramatically contradicts this popular view. God’s kingdom is not simply designed for ‘heaven’, because God is the creator of the whole world, and his entire purpose is to reclaim that whole world as his own and to set it on the way to become the place he always intended it to be, before human rebellion pulled it so disastrously off track. That, in fact, is the message of the four gospels, despite many generations of misunderstanding. This misunderstanding has come about partly because, when Matthew uses the phrase ‘kingdom of heaven’ (the other gospels mostly have ‘kingdom of God’), it has been easy for readers with ‘going to heaven’ in their minds to suppose that that was what Matthew, and hence Jesus, were talking about.
Wright, T. (2011). Revelation for Everyone (pp. 103–104). London; Louisville, KY: SPCK; Westminster John Knox.
God isn’t just “in charge of heaven.” He created the entire world. His purpose is to reclaim the whole world as his own. He wants it set on the path he has always intended.
The main message is this: SUFFERING LOVE CONQUERS ALL. It is not the power and might and manipulation of this world.
It is powerful… and unwelcome. Unwelcome in this world because it’s a threat to worldly powers. Sadly, it’s been unwelcome in parts of the Church bent on power in the same vein as the powers of this world. His reign has come. The powers of this world rebel… but God’s kingdom reigns. It is the subversive power inside the visible power. The visible power will crumble. The Kingdom of God will reign.
I am not saved to get to “heaven.” I am save to regain my vocation in the Kingdom of God and get on with the work of the King.
This is the Kingdom of God.