Jesus came to inaugurate the Kingdom – the new reality of relationship with God and His reign in human hearts. He called people to follow Him – to know Him as King and to experience His love, mercy, and power. His Kingdom goodness and justice starts with people knowing Him, and being changed from the inside out.
For the last few weeks I have been writing about the different aspects of the Kingdom of God, as taught by Jesus. This week I want to look at how the Kingdom includes God’s good judgment over injustice and selfishness. The Kingdom is not about “knowing Jesus is the Son of God”, or any type of passive knowledge alone. The Kingdom is a dynamic relationship of devotion to the King that changes us, changes our passions, and transforms us to take up the cause of Christ – including justice.
People must respond to the King and His reign. He called people to deny themselves – people can overcome selfishness with the King (Mt.16:24-28; Mk.8:34-9:1; Lk.9:23-27). People are called to be done with materialism and serving money, living out of the King’s abundance with gratitude and generosity (see Mt.20:15); it is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom (Mt.19:23f; Mk.10:23f; Lk.18:25f). Jesus called the poor blessed (Lk.6:20; Mt.5:3), ate with sinners, and defended the outcasts (Mt.21:31; see Mt.9:9-13; Mk.2:13-17; Lk.5:27-32). He insisted that His disciples serve and be humble (Mt.18:1-4; Mk.10:15; Lk.18:16-17), following His example (see Mt.20:25-28; Mk.10:42-45; Lk.22:25-27; also Jn.13:12-17). The last in the world will be the first in the Kingdom (Mt.20:16).
The Kingdom includes judgment. To refuse the new relationship with Jesus and refuse to do the will of God carries dire consequences (Mt.7:21-23). The mercy of Jesus can be accepted, though, even at the last minute (Lk.23:42). Rejecting the message of the Kingdom will lead to punishment (Mt.10:7-15; Lk.10:10-12). Righteousness (doing God’s will through Jesus) is expected, even if it means great cost (Mk.9:47; cf.Mt.18:9). Those who selfishly refuse the invitation of the King will be punished (Mt.22:2; cf.Lk.14:15). Those who do not persevere with the presence of Christ will be turned away (Mt.25:11-13).
There is separation in the Kingdom (Mt.13:47-50; 25:31-32). The King will come again and bring about the full reality of His Kingdom, removing all evil from the world (Mt.13:41). His coming will include a final judgment for justice and goodness. Those who, like Christ, have served the least of these will live in the Kingdom; those who have refused to serve Christ will be punished (Mt.25:31-46). Those who have served and led – even religiously – without knowing Christ or living the Kingdom will be rejected and cast out (Mt.7:22-23; 21:43). People will be held accountable for using the gifts they were given (Mt.25:14ff; Lk.19:11ff). The apostles are given some authority to judge (Lk.22:29-30; cf.Mk.11:10), but the ultimate judge is Christ, the King (Mt.25:31-34). After the judgment, His Kingdom will fully be on earth – with God and humans in right relationship and His good will reigning on earth through human hearts. The righteous will experience eternal life (Mt.25:46) and will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of God (Mt.13:43).
As we can see from all of these verses, the Kingdom includes expectation. God has expectations on us as human beings. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we escape evaluation; it means we are filled with God’s own presence to be able to live up to His expectations. There is forgiveness, of course, but this is not an excuse for not following God’s will or not cooperating with God’s Spirit who is guiding us.
We all have a part to play for justice. Justice will be incomplete without the work that needs to be done in the human heart. To start the work of God’s justice we need to start with our own hearts and allow God to do some serious work there. We also need to work for justice, taking a stand against those who are selfishly hurting, oppressing, or acting unfairly towards others.
Where is God in the injustice? He is in us – calling us out to make a difference with Him. May His Kingdom come!
 Jesus sets people free from enslavement – including inner enslavement, and gives them hope and celebration. Sobrino, Jesus the Liberator, 88, 96-97, 103.
 Sobrino sees justice for the poor as central to the Kingdom. The message of Christ is hope for the oppressed (Liberator, 131).