The Kingdom of God
I have been thinking a lot about Jesus and specifically his character and God’s Kingdom this week. I have been going over what I think the Bible is trying to teach me about ‘religion’ and law and freedom. I’ve also been thinking about what it is that I am supposed to do, in order to be part of God’s Kingdom and what that looks like in what I do and how I treat others.
Matthew 5 talks about the sermon on the mount, which is a collection of blessings that reveal the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven and of God. As always, with Jesus, it is not what seems obvious. Whilst it does bring future blessing, it is also hard and radical and suffering is heavily included amongst a life of flourishing. Great. That does make sense though, when we look to Jesus and his life as our example. His life contained a lot of suffering, as well as a lot of blessing.
The text is thought provoking, elevating the broken, humble and poor. It stands out, that whilst this time and culture seems so far away and so different to ours, the difficult truth is that we still do not live in a world where the broken, humble and poor are elevated and prioritised. They are still cast out and rejected, manipulated and taken advantage of. It seems so clear to me when I read the gospels, that it is our acts of righteousness that make Jesus known in the world. Our choices involving peace, justice and love that stand out in a broken and abusive world. Our good works that build God’s Kingdom and include others to be part of it too.
The sermon on the mount evidences the transformed interpretation of the law that surpasses all that of the Old Testament. A greater version. A version full of love. A version that is no longer just sin management but an active involvement in a community and Kingdom that is better than anything else. A version that looks deep into the heart behind humanity and values and includes everybody. A version that no longer validates retaliation or getting even but roots itself in love and nonviolence. A demonstration of radical love and acceptance that creates a willingness and a desire for internal transformation to become more like Jesus.
The Kingdom of God is so different to that of our Earthly Kingdom, that it can be hard to get our head around. It can be difficult to see another way or we can become complacent in just accepting what is. But we are called to be different and we can only be different through Jesus. This transformation then allows us to demonstrate Jesus to others and be known for our radical Kingdom ways, not our violent and oppressive ones.
We have all been created in God’s image. We are all loved and we are all able to be transformed by it and love others as God loves them. The Kingdom way is hard and radical but it is also full of blessing.
As I read the Lord’s prayer, it was obvious that even that continued with this theme of radical love and righteousness. We don’t need any validation from others for our prayers but we should be seeking transformation and an inverse of our expectations. It is not a prayer about our own personal desires but of God’s and the communal language shows that it is about us all. Our priorities should be that of the Kingdom and our wants and desires can be transformed into Kingdom ones. Desires for more grace, kindness, goodness, peace and love.
Let’s ask for more love and goodness for us, others and the world. Let’s ask for our desires to be transformed and for our communities to be transformed as a consequence.
The Kingdom of God is hard and radical but it is also full of blessing.