Building the Kingdom of God: a living apologetic
The world is in the grip of a culture of materialism dominated by greed and self-interest. Predictions of social, economic and environmental catastrophe indicate that this consumerist worldview may well destroy us. Neither political parties nor governments, neither economic gurus nor commercial institutions seem to have any answers.
But Christians do, it’s called the Kingdom of God. Jesus inaugurated it and we’re called to build on what Jesus began wherever we are1. Our response is crucial, for God’s realm is a world-saving and redeeming contrast to the one that materialistic philosophies have built. It’s one whose fruit is love, joy, peace, contentment, goodness, faithfulness and self control rather than fear, anger, discord, greed, envy, idolatry and debauchery. It’s where God reigns: where Jesus’ relational presence is welcomed and encouraged and it will be completed at Jesus’ return,
These promises of the Kingdom – in contrast to the ways of the world – are as good an argument as any for believing and declaring the Faith to be true. But in order to proclaim this effectively we must demonstrate God’s sovereignty in our own lives, not just talk about it.
This is not a special responsibility for a few holy leaders. All followers of Jesus in every tradition, and none, are called to their particular role in God’s Kingdom: there are no exceptions. If you or I don’t take part there’s a gap in God’s plan that may not be filled until Jesus returns. Christianity is not just accepting a set of doctrines; it needs to be worked out in our everyday lives. The faith needs to be practised and when it is, and only when it is, it works2. Christians must be building peaceful, honest, just and loving communities which radiate a spiritual reality of joy, wellbeing and contentment: an impressive and effective alternative to consumerism. Be encouraged, what you build with Jesus will not be here today and gone with the wind tomorrow but will be honoured, built upon and last into eternity3.
What a blessing and inspiration it is to be included in such a voyage of redemption and restoration where we pass on the new life we’ve received. It should make us determined to draw as close as possible to our Father so that we can undertake it faithfully. And so Christians must rise to the challenge, the future of mankind depends on it.
The assignment will not be easy. Western society is increasingly living as though God doesn’t exist and the dominant temporal powers in politics, education, commerce and the media are arrayed against us. We see this clearly in apologetics where I sometimes wonder if the current anti-Christian tidal wave of popular misinformation, distortion, deception and ignorance will wash us all away. But, in a Jesus-facilitated relationship with our Father, with His Spirit in us, we can swim against this secular flow and, in doing so, affirm the veracity of our faith
But the close relationship with God is vital. It’s His Kingdom we’re building, not ours. We can’t be Jesus to people unless He’s reigning in us. It’s not a realm where religious laws and ceremonies dominate, nor is it pie in the sky when you die. It’s a transformed and transforming community here on earth that’s alive and vibrant with the Spirit of God, one where the world is holistically infused with Heaven. It’s one where Jesus is Lord of all parts of our lives so that we effectively become Gods royal representatives: Jesus people, created for divine responsibility. Then the Kingdom of God will be amongst us, we will be its citizens, know its secrets and be able to unlock its power4. We have been reborn a new creation who can transform Creation5 because we will not be building to our own desires, plans, strengths and talents but with those of the Almighty. And when this happens it will be the greatest piece of evidence for the truth of the Faith that there can be.
1. Schorah C. 2011. The Kingdom of God. Elmspring Publishers: 30 Gascoigne Ave, Leeds. LS15 4LW. UK; Wright T. 2012. How God became King. SPCK: London; Matthew 12:28; Luke 4:18-21; New Bible Dictionary 1982. 2nd edition. pp 656-9.
2. Acts; Philippians 2:15-6.
3. Matthew 16:27; John 6:27; Romans 8:18-23; 1Corinthians 3:10-5; 15:58.
4. Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Mark 1:14; 4:11; Luke 11:20; 12:31-2; 17:21; John 3:5; Romans 14:17-8; 1Corinthians 4:20; Philippians 3:20.
5. Ezekiel 36:26; John 3:3-7; 2Corinthians 5:17-8; Titus 3:5-7; 1Peter 1:22-3.