So, if you have been following the blog thus far, you have seen that the Kingdom of God is Jesus’s primary way of talking about what he was called to do, that this Kingdom is the rule and reign of God, that followers of Jesus are in the Kingdom, and that this Kingdom is here and also not yet here. Now we ask, how does knowing this affect the way that we live out our day-to-day lives?
First, let’s look at some flawed ways of understanding Christianity:
1. The Add-On
This is one of the easiest pitfalls in American Christianity particularly. Christianity in this system is seen as a religious system of belief that is simply tacked on to one’s regular life. Coming to Christ is similar to adding a new diet plan or even entering into a new relationship. Sure, it changes some things about the way you live but not everything. Some things are dropped, some things are added, some things stay the same, and some things find some new sort of equilibrium.
2. The Belief
This is actually one of the oldest heresies in the book. This is where your Christianity is more about believing than doing. The success in this system is knowing that Jesus has saved you and that you are going to heaven. It carries with it no burden to do anything or to change because you already have done what you need to do.
3. The Self-Help
This is where Christianity serves as the basis for making yourself better. It mines the rules and objectives from Scripture but only as a means of providing a target. It says that Jesus has saved you so that you could make yourself better.
These are each flawed for their own reasons. The “Add-On” doesn’t speak to the revolutionary message of Jesus; the Kingdom of God is a truer way of looking at the world and is preeminent over any other way of seeing the world. The “Belief” is ultimately useless and doesn’t often hold up in the face of tragedy; belief speaks to what you know, but the Kingdom speaks to who you are, who God is, and how the universe operates. The “Self-Help” fails to recognize the grace of Jesus; it takes the good news and right living of the Kingdom away from the King and places it all on the shoulders of the population.
Personally, I have struggled with each of these ways of looking at my faith. It has led to pain, guilt, failure, confusion, and ultimately times of missing out on the good that God has for me. If what I have been saying about the Kingdom is true, if it truly is the way that Jesus views the universe and the goal of his work on earth, then I believe that our understanding of how we live out our Christianity must come from how we understand the Kingdom.
The goal of the Christian life must be a summation of all that we have learned so far: In a word, Citizenship.
God rules and reigns.
Jesus died to pay our entrance into this Kingdom.
Being a part of this Kingdom is how we were always meant to live.
We are in the Kingdom now but it won’t come to fruition now.
Our goal, then is to live as citizens of the now and future Kingdom of God.
This will look different from much of the way that other people live their life because they do not live in Jesus’s Kingdom. The rules are different for them. They have different goals. They are under different leadership. Thinking of ourselves first and foremost as citizens of God’s Kingdom will result in us living radically different lives.
I will talk more about what this looks like in my next blog.