Jesus was constantly talking about the Kingdom of God. It was what he talked about the most. That makes me think that it was something pretty important. Unfortunately, not to many people really know what it is.
Lets start with what it isn’t. The Kingdom is not heaven. It is not where you go when you die. This is the most frequent mistake people make. Jesus makes this clear in the Lord’s Prayer when He says, “Thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It seems more like a joining of heaven and earth, which is different from just the place where you go when you die. It is clearly something that enters the world. Let’s not put it off until the next world.
It isn’t the Church either. That’s one I have heard from both Catholics and Baptists. I took a class based on a book by a Baptist missionary. He said that every individual church is the body of Christ, and all the churches in the world are the Kingdom of God. There is so much wrong with that statement. Every Christian is a part of the body of Christ, the Church. Doesn’t matter what church you are a part of, you are a part of Christ’s mystical body. And again the Kingdom is much more.
First off, the word Kingdom may not be the best translation. The word implies more action. A better, and perfectly legitimate, translation is Reign. The Reign of God. The important aspects are command, control, or oversight. It’s about God actually being your Lord. Remember, God is more about self-sacrificial love than about telling you what to do. The Reign of God is the reign of love.
One of the problems we have in understanding exactly what this Reign of God is, is that it is a metaphor described with other metaphors. It uses the image of a King, and is described with pearls, mustard trees, and seeds. Jesus says people will sell all they own to posess it. Some will even become eunuchs for it.
So we have to listen very closely to the stories Jesus tells. We have to pay attention to what He actually did, and how He treated others. By meditating on the life of Christ we can witness the one person who we know the Reign of God was real and active. He says that He only did what He saw the Father doing. He imitated the Father, and we are to imitate Him. And what did Jesus do? Well He obviously taught people, He performed miracles, and He healed people. Most of us can’t do any of that. But we have to look deeper. He helped people. He used the great gifts He had to help as many as He could. He doesn’t expect you to be able to touch someone and heal them of leprosy. But He has given you other gifts. You can comfort someone who is suffering. You can give to those who are in need. You know what gifts you have, share them with the world.
The Reign of God is about letting Him become the center of your world, which again, is letting love be the center of your life. Contemporary people have a huge problem with this. We reject the idea of letting someone else be in charge, to be our guiding principle. The problem with that is that the only person left to be in charge is you. What a terrible burden. We must learn that we aren’t in control, and let God run with it.
The Reign of God is ultimately about accepting reality. Meeting the one who is really real. The only one who is eternal. And letting that ultimate reality be in charge. It isn’t something to look forward to after you die, and you won’t get it automatically if you join the right church. It is close at hand. All you have to do is get out of the way and let heaven and earth come together in your heart.