What does a KINGDOM CULTURE look like?

Traditionally, Christians have often made a distinction between the “visible” and “invisible” Church. It is a rhetorical strategy that differentiates between the Church that the world sees and the true Church that only God knows. However, if this is interpreted to mean that the Kingdom of God is invisible — that no one can really tell  when it is or is not present — then it is absolutely mistaken.

There is simply nothing invisible or ambiguous about the Kingdom of God. It always looks something like Jesus, dying on Calvary for the people who crucified him, while praying, “Father, forgive them.” When God reigns it always manifests Calvary-quality love. The Kingdom is present whenever people are getting their life from Christ alone and are therefore looking increasingly like Jesus, doing what Jesus did, and obeying what Jesus taught.

When people refuse to retaliate and instead return evil with good…

the Kingdom of God is present.

When people love their enemies rather than fight them, bless those who persecute them rather than curse them, and pray for those who mistreat them rather than get even…

the Kingdom of God is present.

When people choose the serve rather than be served and to be killed rather than participate in the killing of others…

the Kingdom of God is present.

When people choose to put the interest of others before their own, to forgive even after multiple offenses and to invest their own time and resources into serving others…

the Kingdom of God is present.

When people befriend the friendless, feed the hungry, house the homeless, love sinners rather than judge them, and work to bring healing to peoples’ lives and relationships…

the Kingdom of God is present.

When we choose to live life in a way that ascribes worth to others and seeks the common good, rather than using people and manipulating the system for our own benefit…

the Kingdom of God is present.

This is what God’s life looks like when it is manifested, “on earth as it is in heaven,” for this is what Christ looked like when he came down from heaven to earth. When the Kingdom is present it is most certainly visible. One cannot help but notice it, for in a self-centered, violent, angry world such as ours, the Kingdom of God presents in the Church an alternative community marked by Calvary quality love that cannot help but stand out.

Yet the truth is, nothing could be more unnatural, painful, and impractical than serving those who intend to do you, your tribe, or your nation harm! It is only “natural” to look out for oneself,  defend one’s self interest — which is why most people instinctively live this way. It is also why the history the human race is largely a history of cyclical, mindless carnage.

To those who have become disgusted with the emptiness and perpetual conflict of this supposedly “natural” way, Jesus’ radically different way of  doing life sounds like true LIFE.  To these people, Jesus presents a new way of being human in a new community and it is absolutely attractive. Yet only those who know that they are sick desire what the physician has to offer. Only those who have given up trying to do life on their own terms long for the LIFE that is available for them now within the context of the Kingdom. When we begin to receive this LIFE, made available through the person and work of Christ,  we begin to live this LIFE  and it begins to transform us into the self-sacrificial, loving image of Jesus.

In the dark, violent, self-centered world in which we live, there exists a matchlight burning through the dark. This kind of personal transformation, this kind of community, this kind of justice cannot remain hidden for long. The Kingdom of God is breaking into our present age and refuses to remain invisible.

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2 thoughts on “What does a KINGDOM CULTURE look like?

  1. This is awesome, Patrick!

    I think you’d love a book I just finished: “How God Became King – the Forgotten Story of the Gospels” by N.T. Wright. The fact that Jesus went to the cross to establish the Kingdom is his major theme.

    Thanks for the encouragement in making the Kingdom known.

    1. Donnie,

      I have long been a fan of NT Wright and much of my thinking and biblical interpretation is indebted to him. I have read several of his books and I actually downloaded “How God became King” onto my Kindle but have not found time to read it amidst all the work I’ve had this semester. Hopefully I will get around to it this summer! Thanks for the comment!

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