What is “the kingdom of God”?
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
We intone these words each week as we pray the Lord’s Prayer. But have you ever stopped to consider: “What is the kingdom of God.”
We know Luther’s answer: “What does this mean? The kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also. How does God’s kingdom come? God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.”
The “kingdom of God” was central to Jesus’ message. That “kingdom” is the picture of a world where God is in charge. It is what God had intended from humankind; something polluted and soiled when sin entered the picture. In God’s “kingdom,” things are different. God’s grace becomes a way of life. Grace becomes the seed for everything that takes root and flowers – justice, peace, hope, forgiveness, restoration.
In this coming Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus speaks of God’s “kingdom” twice in two short verses (Luke 12:31,32) – “…seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you…for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
As a church – an Acts 1:8 Church that seeks to follow where God is leading – we need to begin to think more “kingdom of God” rather than the church as “institution.” We need to think more of the community of believers than the singular faith of each individual. We need to think about the “fellowship” that is based upon the commonly shared values of God’s people than mere “pot-luck dinners” and coffee. Why? Because God doesn’t call people to be individuals who all happen to show up in the same place for no apparent reason. God calls his people to be his “kingdom” – “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).