What do you think of when you imagine a Kingdom?
My mind goes to medieval European scenes. I quite effortlessly imagine a King on a throne, and his domain in terms of place, territory, and borders. These lands basically belong to the King, and everyone living within those boundaries are subject to his rule and every whim. That is what makes up his kingdom.
In my experience, this is typical of people when they imagine a Kingdom. Which makes perfect sense, since that is indeed what is typically meant by it when used.
Unfortunately, this is NOT how Jesus or any of the New Testament authors intend the word when they use it. I declare it unfortunate because that means we have to do the work of intentionally redefining what we imagine when we read it in our Bibles. I know, I know... it is ridiculously inconvenient. Why can't the Bible just use words that fit nicely into what those words already mean to us? So annoying.
Annoying or not, it must be dealt with by anyone interested in Jesus. Why? Because he speaks of "the Kingdom" A LOT. Therefore, the mature (and maturing) Christian simply must know what Jesus means by it. Simply importing our typical understanding, while uber convenient, will steal the intent and message of scripture every time we read the word.
If it makes you feel any better, the first disciples had the same problem. When they imagined a kingdom, they thought of their Jewish history, when Israel was ruled by King David, and it was easily identified according to place, territory, and border.
But with Jesus, this all changed. So, when he said, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near," or taught his disciples to pray, "Your Kingdom come," or proclaims, "The Kingdom of God is within you," - well, you see what I mean. He is clearly high-jacking the word and doing what he said he was doing when he said, "Behold, I am making all things new!"
So, for the next few weeks, we will explore what Jesus and the New Testament authors imagine when they think of kingdom. I'll give you this hint: It is really good news. Want a preview of my series outline? See Romans 14:17.
And by the way, to all of you image-bearers of God that He in His grace and wisdom placed powerfully into female form (Genesis 1:27), Happy Mother's Day. Whether you have children or not, we honor you, and are amazed by you, and your fierce, undeterrable, motherly love and spirit. And while not everyone is a mother, we all have or had mothers. So, may God bless and minister to all of our hearts as we think especially of our moms.