For the last few weeks I have been writing about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom can be a hard concept to understand, but in a nutshell it is about life with the King. The Kingdom of God is not a place, it is a new reality and relationship with God where we follow Him and live out His will – we allow God to change us to want to do His will, not our own. The Kingdom is lived out with the King, and also in community. This community is defined by the love of the Father and that love is lived out in the community. The community pours out generosity because of the security of God’s abundant love.
For the next couple of weeks I will look at how the Kingdom includes living out the Kingdom mission with the King. God has not just called us to know Him and live in community – as great as those are – He has called us to join Him and change the world, calling people back home to Him.
The community of the Kingdom joins the mission of the King.
Jesus is the King, and He came to bring and proclaim the Kingdom. Evangelism – sharing the message of hope – was central to His mission, and He expected it to be central to His followers as well. Jesus confirmed to Pilate that He was a king, and that He was born to testify to the truth (Jn.19:37). When the people of Capernaum wanted Jesus to stay in their town, He told them that He had come to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom to other towns as well (Lk.4:43).
Jesus empowered His followers with the message of the Kingdom (Mt.10:7; Lk.9:2, 60; 10:9-11) – the King has come, the Kingdom is here, there is a new reality and relationship with God. There is forgiveness of sins and victory over death. This Kingdom message would be taught to all nations (Mt.24:15; cf.Mt.28:19; Ac.1:8), and that many would come from the east and west to the feast of the Kingdom (Mt.8:11; Lk.13:29).
The Kingdom grows. It is like leaven that works its way through the whole batch (Mt.13:33; Lk.11:20), like a mustard seed that starts small but grows large (Mt.13:31-32; Mk.4:30-32; Lk.13:18-19) or like a seed that grows without anyone how it happens (Mk.4:26). Part of life in the Kingdom is experiencing Kingdom growth.
The Holy Spirit fills the followers of Christ with the power of the Father. Christ’s followers are empowered to have a new relationship with God, love each other, and live out the mission of the King. It is by the Spirit that Christ casts out demons (Mt.12:28; Lk.11:20), and He gives this authority to the disciples (Mt.10:1; also Jn.20:21-23).
Every citizen of the Kingdom is a child of the Father, born of the Spirit (Jn.3:5) – those outside the Kingdom are invited to have a new, direct relationship with the Father, being born as a child of God, and experiencing forgiveness. They are also expected to respond to the King – in repentance, humility, trust, generosity, joining the community of faith, and living out His mission.
Those who join the mission of the King will face opposition from Satan. The evil one also has a kingdom, but the Lord is stronger (Mt.12:25-26; Mk.3:23-26; Lk.11:17-18). Following the King includes working against the kingdom of Satan (Mt.12:28; Lk.11:20). Satan and his “anti-kingdom” will resist; the Kingdom of God won’t come without opposition – and so the disciples of Christ should expect to suffer, as He did, and to overcome with His power.
Jesus proclaimed that His disciples are blessed when they are persecuted for righteousness (doing His will; Mt.5:10), and promised James and John that they too would suffer (Mt.20:21; Mk.10:37). All who follow Him must take up their cross and let go of their lives – to truly find life (Mt.16:24-28; Mk.8:34-9:1; Lk.9:23-27). Jesus, as our King, was willing to suffer, and thus to bring in the Kingdom of forgiveness (Mt.26:26-29; Mk.14:22-25; Lk.22:15-20). The soldiers mocked Him as King (Mt.27:29; Mk.15:18; cf.Lk.23:37), the religious leaders used His title as King to have Him crucified (Jn.19:12), and the sign above His head declared to the whole world that He is a King, a reminder to His followers that His Kingdom includes suffering and overcoming (Mt.27:37; Mk.15:26; Lk.23:38; Jn.19:19-20). Following Jesus will mean suffering.
Christ’s mission was to overcome sin and death; empowered by the King, the community of the Kingdom joins His mission and brings the Good News of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth.
Following Jesus (life in the Kingdom) is not about going to church or saying we “believe in God” – it includes living out the mission with the King. His mission changes lives and can change the world, His mission includes rejection and suffering, and His mission means we will experience His power and growth. Too often we want to know how God will make our lives better (that is ok to want), but even more we need to understand how we are made to help the mission of God on earth. May His Kingdom come; His is the glory forever.
More on the mission of the King – and how we join in – next week.
 Suzanne Watts Henderson makes the point that the Kingdom of God is a Christ-like community. Christ and Community (Nashville: Abingdon, 2015), Kindle locations 613, 899. Communities are shaped by Christ, and adapt the message of Christ to their individual contexts (Kindle locations 991, 1040, 1147).
 Henderson says the community of faith is filled with His power to continue His ministry and bring healing to the world (Community, loc.1824).
 Sobrino, Liberator, 72.
 Suffering, in the Jewish story, was a key ingredient to the great deliverance and victory. This includes the figure of the Son of Man. NT Wright, Jesus, 465.
 Henderson highlights the tragic irony that Jerusalem, at the seat of religious power, met the Messiah with violence and fought against God’s will – thus actually bringing about the messianic age (Christ and Community, loc.2098). Suffering is not always God’s specific will – but a result of the conflict that enfolds when the Kingdom of God breaks in (loc.2246).
 For Jesus, the goal was the defeat of evil – not by the military, but by suffering and turning the other cheek. NT Wright, Jesus, 465. Wright sees this victory over evil as the true end of Israel’s exile.