contrast

5 Distinctions of God’s Kingdom

Jesus said that his kingdom was “not from this world,” for it contrasts with the kingdom of the world in every possible way. This is not a simple contrast between good and evil. The contrast is rather between two fundamentally different ways of doing life, two fundamentally different mindsets and belief systems, two fundamentally different loyalties.

Here are 5 basic contrasts:

A contrast of trusts

The kingdom of the world trusts the power of the sword, while the kingdom of God trusts the power of the cross.

A contrast of aims

The kingdom of the world seeks to control behavior, while the kingdom of God seeks to transform lives from the inside out. Also, the kingdom of the world is rooted in preserving, if not advancing, one’s self-interests and one’s own will, while the kingdom of God is centered exclusively on carrying out God’s will, even if this requires sacrificing one’s own interests.

A contrast of scopes

The kingdom of the world is intrinsically tribal in nature, and is heavily invested in defending, if not advancing, one’s own people-group, one’s nation, one’s ethnicity, one’s state, one’s religion, one’s ideologies, or one’s political agendas. That is why it is a kingdom characterized by perpetual conflict. The kingdom of God, however, is intrinsically universal, for it is centered on simply loving as God loves. The kingdom-of-God participant has by love transcended the tribal and nationalistic parameters of whatever version of the kingdom of the world they find themselves in.

A contrast of responses

The kingdom of the world is intrinsically a tit-for-tat kingdom; its motto is “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” In this fallen world, no version of the kingdom of the world can survive for long by loving its enemies and blessing those who persecute it; it carries the sword, not the cross. But kingdom-of-God participants carry the cross, not the sword. We, thus, aren’t ever to return evil with evil, violence with violence. We are rather to manifest the unique kingdom of Christ by returning evil with good. Far from seeking retaliation, we seek the well-being of our “enemy.”

A contrast of battles

The kingdom of the world has earthly enemies and, thus fights earthly battles; the kingdom of God, however, by definition has no earthly enemies, for its disciples are committed to love “their enemies,” thereby treating them as friends.

—Adapted from The Myth of a Christian Nation, pages 46-48

Photo credit: theilr via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Related Reading

Jesus Feminist

Sarah Bessey’s book Jesus Feminist releases today. We’re so excited for her and for anyone who gets to read this book. She is first, and foremost a disciple of Jesus, and her embrace of feminism is inextricably wrapped in her identity as a disciple. Here’s a little snippet of something she’s written that beautifully expresses…

Consumer Wars: Sermon Clip

To go along with our other post today, here’s a clip from Greg’s sermon last week. If you don’t have any financial margin in your life, this might have something to do with it. You can find the entire sermon here.

Our Beautiful, Nightmarish World

The Bible consistently proclaims that the creation reflects the glory of God. To me, the truth of this proclamation is undeniable. When I was younger I several times went on three-week solo backpacking trips into the mountainous forests of Montana. If gazing at the star studded sky on a moonless night at the peak of…

Responding in Love

The world is full of conflict where evil begets more evil. Violence produces more violence. Arguments produce more arguments. It’s a tit-for-tat world. What is God’s strategy for stopping this conflict? How does God respond to evil, and how does God call us to respond? This strategy might even come in handy during heated conversations…

The Purpose of the Church

Concerning the preaching of the Gospel, Paul wrote that God’s intent was that “through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places … in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord”…

Introducing “TribeNet”

Hello Kingdom people, For years I’ve heard on a regular basis from individuals and small groups/house churches who wanted to know if there are others in their area that share their vision of a Jesus-looking God raising up a Jesus-looking people to transform the world in a Jesus kind of way. Along the same lines,…