Posts about American culture.

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Site is live! What is the kingdom???

Hello everyone,

Welcome (back) to my website. This is not officially a new launch, because I ran this blog for a couple years and had a good amount of posts racked up. This time it’s back up, but with a new theme and landing page that hopefully communicates some of the vision behind the posts. People often ask me what I mean when I talk about the Kingdom of God, because it’s such a loaded term when I talk about it in normal usage. Simply put, the Kingdom is the place where God reigns. It is primarily a spiritual kingdom, which is why Jesus said it was “within” us. But it’s hard to easily understand a spiritual reality like the kingdom. So perhaps an easier way to think about it is to picture “heaven.” Heaven is the place we think of where God’s will is done perfectly, and the full expression of His will is plainly visible. That’s why it’s perfect and the hope of our hearts. There are 2 lies generally believed about heaven though, great big whoppers. The first is that we are supposed to wait to experience it, and the second, that it’s something like singing forever while sitting on a cloud.

The first lie has to do with how the Gospel (Good News) has been redefined. Jesus, when he was on earth, preached the “Gospel of the Kingdom,” which was the good news that the Kingdom of God had come to earth, so one should repent so that he could “enter in.” More simply understood, Jesus was saying that heaven had come to earth, and it was time to experience it NOW. That’s why he went around healing people: he was demonstrating the reality of the kingdom. In the kingdom, there’s no disease and hope reigned eternal. Somewhere in Church history, the gospel was redefined to mean that the Good News was that, if we repented and believed in Jesus, we could go to heaven when we died. This is true, and good news, but it is not the same message. It is the “Gospel of Salvation,” that preaches the way into the kingdom, but then stops. It is hard to understate how devastatingly different this message is.

Because of this understanding of the kingdom, people are made Christians and then essentially told to “be good” until death, which is when the really good stuff happens. So Christians all over struggle to abstain from the things of the world and try to be faithful until death. But this is really only the very first, most elementary of understandings about the kingdom. As I often say, the good news is not that we get to go to heaven when we die; it’s that heaven is here and invading the earth! The true calling of the Church is to function as ambassadors of heaven, demonstrating its reality to a fallen world, and calling all peoples to obedience to Jesus, who is the rightful king of the earth. This gospel is different because it demands that the Church be of a different stuff entirely. We are to have power to heal the sick, raise the dead, and prophesy while also demonstrating the lifestyle of a people who are from heaven – not figuratively, truly! In fact, we can only do the work of the kingdom to the degree that we live in and experience the reality of the kingdom (heaven).

Which is why the second lie is so terrible. It’s that heaven essentially sucks. We sit on clouds and sing with harps for eternity. Are you starting the see the resemblance between this vision of the heaven and that expression in the Church? How often is it that in church we sit in services and sing and can’t wait to leave. The reason why this vision of heaven is damaging is that we are called to bring heaven (the kingdom) on the earth. If our vision of heaven is not compelling, then our “preaching” is not compelling. In fact, singing will only be a small part of what we do there. In the age to come, we will have jobs and eat meals and do many things like we do now. When I envision heaven now, I think less of sunlit clouds and more of a city, which is I think what the Bible hints at more as well. In fact, rightfully envisioning heaven and living in it (!) is the key to being effective on the earth. The key for Christians is that each must start living in his calling. What is your calling?? It’s your eternal job, started now. It’s the thing you were designed to do for eternity in “heaven,” except you start doing it now and see how you were sovereignly designed to do just that.

This blog, in its essence, is the attempt to envision heaven on the earth. What does that look like in each aspect of society? What does that look like in our music and government? What does it look like in our homes and jobs? It is rejecting a religious notion of the church and its lifestyle and embracing a vivid picture of the kingdom of God on the earth.