Chapter 1 : A Real Kingdom
When Jesus came upon the scene, He began to speak, teach and demonstrate a new reality that He was inaugurating upon earth called the Kingdom of God. He spoke about it endlessly, seeking to describe in detail how life should be lived with God, others and the world around us. One great teacher has said, “The Kingdom of God is being in right relationship with God, others and everything else in His creation.” Although this statement is not full, nor is it complete, it certainly says a mouthful.
For many, the Kingdom is merely an idea of heaven, or a theological, mystical idea here on earth; but I am convinced by Jesus’ own words and life that the Kingdom is not just in heaven, nor is it a mystical idea. The Kingdom is real, relational, supernatural and here—now. For when He came, He said over and over, “the Kingdom of God is at hand … the Kingdom of God is among you … the Kingdom of God is within you.” Jesus believed it was real. Jesus believed it was here. Jesus believed it was now as well as someday.
If this is indeed a real kingdom, it has very real attributes; many of these are the attributes of other kingdoms upon earth.
Reflection: Finish this phrase: “Every kingdom has …”
This last idea, that every kingdom has a culture, is the topic of this booklet. Culture is beliefs, knowledge, and values that any people group has that determine their actions, behaviors, and way of life. Culture is the mental, spiritual, relational, and behavioral control system of a people group. It is the inner beliefs, ideas, and values that provoke and stimulate all outer actions and lifestyles. It is the driving force of daily life in any and every kingdom on earth!
The Kingdom of God has its own culture. This was one of the great burdens of the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not simply come to die for our sins and take us to heaven, but He also came as a cultural revolutionary. He came to call out, cast down and replace the current, broken belief system of this world and replace it with a way of seeing life and living life that comes straight from the Father. Listen to the words of His prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In this statement, Jesus is saying:
- Father, bring your Kingdom here, now. Replace the kingdoms of this world; the American kingdoms, the European kingdoms, the African kingdoms, the Asian kingdoms, and my personal kingdom with Yours.
- Your will be done here and now. Not the will of global marketing. Not the will of lust and perversion. Not the will of Consumerism. Not the will of Capitalism or Socialism. Not the will of power hungry men and women. Not the will or the way of man, Lord, but Your will and Your way lived out on earth.
- On earth as it is in Heaven. Father, the way people live there, in Your world, help us to live like that here. Bring Your way of life and Your reality here, now!
Jesus the Revolutionary
A Revolutionary is someone who has seen another way of life and becomes captivated by that other way. They, therefore, give their life to replacing the current order of things with that new life vision. The complete upheaval of the current system of life and the establishment of a whole new order, is the reason of his/her existence. Is this not true of Jesus? Is this not one of His primary purposes in coming?
Jesus saw …
- The Father
- The Eternal Life
- The present Evil Age with all of its deceptions, enticements,
- Heaven’s way of life as possible for the lives of men
- A whole new social order
- A new reason to live
He saw … The Kingdom of God: Heaven’s Culture!
A Revolutionary is a man whose entire being is caught up with his cause. He has lost all private desires, personal interests, and often even, his own right to own property. His whole life is consumed with the purpose—the overthrowing of the current lesser society and the establishment of the new order. The man and the mission are inseparable and almost indistinguishable. It is almost as if he is from another place. It is only inevitable that he must give his life for the cause. This is a Revolutionary. Is this not JesusHe came to transform man and this world into the image of His Father and into a way of life with God, one another, and the things of this world that reflect heaven’s way! He came to “turn over the tables of conventional living” in order to establish a new way. In fact, the early church was, for many years, called The Way or Followers of the Way.
“Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” Acts 9:1-2
“And [Paul] entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way ….” Acts 19:8-9
In the Acts 19 passage, Luke makes a direct link between Paul’s preaching about the Kingdom of God and the entire Christian community, which is called the Way. Why was it called the Way? Because those who lived with Christ under His reign had such a different way of life, a different culture from the unbeliever, that the non-Christian world called them The Way.
The Kingdom of God is a whole other culture, and Jesus came as a cultural revolutionary! It was clear in the early days of the Church, but, I fear, it is in no way clear today. I fear that we have so explained away His life and His words, and that our lives blend so well with the world around us, that a whole new revolutionary movement is needed. Every revolution loses its power when successive generations move further and further from the visionary principles of the founder, and syncretize the lifestyles of the rest of the world into their daily lives.
But we have an advantage because our Founder is not dead. He has not been gone for 2,000 years. He’s alive. He has risen from the dead, and He is still the head of His Church. Praise the Lord. But have we, perhaps, become disconnected from the Head? Have we lost our living connection to Him by the Holy Spirit in such a way that He is no longer directing, correcting, guiding, and moving His body? We know this happened in New Testament days, for in Colossians 2:19 Paul writes of a group of leaders of the Church who “did not hold fast to the Head.” What could that mean? They had lost their living contact with Jesus by the Spirit so that their own minds, their own lives, and the world’s culture were ruling their daily life and practice. In short, they had left the Kingdom and were again living in their own way, falling under the ruling ideas and practices of the world.
Oh, my friends, I pray this is NOT true of us. I pray that we have not been engulfed in the deluge of worldly ideas and values that so capture us and entangle us until our lives look just like the world around us.
Jesus did not come JUST to save us for heaven. He came to change the earth and install a way of life here, a culture from heaven that changes all the rules of life. He came so that the words of His prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven,” would be more than mere sentiment. Instead, these words would be the reality of the way we live! Jesus is a Revolutionary!
Based on the discussion above about the life of a revolutionary, in what ways was/is Jesus a revolutionary?
Can the Kingdom of God be seen as heaven’s revolution today?