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
We’ve been talking a lot here lately about reason and truth and science and how that intersects with faith. It’s been ruffling a few feathers to say the least. It’s sometimes hard to stay engaged. It’s easier to just check out. But this is precisely what we must not do. Here’s a blog post from…
The law of the OT was intended to serve a negative object lesson. This finds its clearest expression in Paul. To begin, Paul interpreted Jesus’ death on the cross largely in sacrificial and substitutionary terms. On the cross, Paul believed, Jesus suffered the full curse of the law on our behalf. Because of this saving…
Instead of aligning any version of the kingdom of this world with the kingdom of God—as is common in American Christianity—kingdom-of-God participants must retain a healthy suspicion toward every version of the kingdom of this world. This is especially necessary regarding one’s own version because that’s precisely where we’re most tempted to become idolatrous (see…
Guante is a Minneapolis-based spoken-word artist. His piece here is called Starfish and it speaks to the tension between working for small changes and dreaming of a better world where much bigger changes are needed. Amen. (Special Thanks to Rod Thomas for reminding me how great Guante can be.)
What is the “good news” of the Gospel? How can we find rest in Jesus? Here’s another video from The Work of the People that examines these questions.