Beginning Sunday, my two little churches are going to do something brave and challenging. We are going to embark on a journey of kingdom theology.
For the next several weeks, we are going to dive deep into our understanding of the kingdom of God. We are going to go beyond the usual statement of saying the “kingdom is here, but not yet,” and begin to process what it means that the kingdom of God is both a present and future reality. We will start by simply defining the kingdom reality and then spend time on general themes throughout the summer and fall. Some of the topics include: being kingdom people, proclaiming the kingdom, desiring the kingdom, and serving as the kingdom.
But, why is it important to focus so much attention on the kingdom of God?
Kingdom theology is not the social gospel. The Social Gospel movement embraced the kingdom of God theology with both arms. It recognized that there is a living application to Jesus’ teachings in the here and now. However, the social gospel is void of one key aspect of kingdom theology. That is that the kingdom of God cannot be separated from Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Doing justice for the sake of doing justice is not enough. Practices of justice must be combined with the message of salvation. True kingdom theology unites both salvation and acts of justice and does not separate the two, which is what many in the church attempt to do today.
Jesus focuses on the kingdom of God. In the church, we spend a lot of time focusing on the “words written in red.” But, do we have an understanding of what Jesus meant by his teaching. Understanding what Jesus taught is important to living the kingdom reality, because Jesus’ teaching is primarily centered on the kingdom of God which his death and resurrection helped to usher in. Thus, if we are to live as deeply committed followers of Christ it is important to understand the kingdom reality in Jesus’ teaching.
Kingdom theology is counter cultural in application. The United States is in the middle of an election year. This brings out a major temptation. That is to read our political ideologies into our Christian faith, which can alter how we view the world and, ultimately, Jesus Christ. A sound kingdom theology challenges the powers of this world and calls all of us to a recognition that Jesus is our Lord today. This has implications for how we vote, shop, live, and interact with others.
There are other aspects of why it is important to focus on kingdom theology, but these are the three most important in my mind. My hope is that the series will bring us all to a deeper understanding of the kingdom of God and what it means to be people of a kingdom in our world today.