What is the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God is the way God does things. It was illustrated perfectly by Jesus, who announced the coming of the Kingdom of God wherever he went, and then proved its arrival and demonstrated what it was like by how he lived.

It created considerable opposition because the way he lived was in total contrast to the way other people lived. Jesus’ life became a titanic clash of kingdoms, a constant battle with the attitudes of the world he found himself in. It came to a head with his own disciples when two of them wanted Jesus to reserve the top two positions in his kingdom for them, which nearly caused a punch-up when the other ten disciples found out, and Jesus had to intervene quickly to settle things down, Mark 10:37-41.

Come on, you lot, he says, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads,” verse 42 (The Message). Hey, this is how the kingdoms of this world operate, right? They love lording it over people and making their authority felt. But “It’s not going to be that way with you,” verse 43. That’s not the way the Kingdom of God does things. In that kingdom, “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant,” verse 44. It’s the absolute opposite to the world’s way. To get a top position in God’s kingdom you’d better be a top servant, not the typical bully type you see all over corporate (and religious) management who loves exploiting his position of power over people to reduce them to whimpering, fearful slaves.

Jesus illustrated that clear contrast in his own life. “That is what the Son of Man has done. He came to serve, not to be served – and then to give his life in exchange for many who are held hostage,” verse 45. That’s the way of God’s kingdom. It’s not about seeking power for the sake of power itself, it’s about power being given to those who live their lives in service to others – just as Jesus himself did. And who wouldn’t want to give power to people with that kind of attitude? Who would you vote for – the candidate who charms his way into being elected just for the pay cheque and fat pension who does absolutely nothing for his constituents, or the fellow who rolls up his sleeves and uses his influence to make things better?

Jesus is pointing out the obvious. Obviously power should only go to those who serve, and fortunately that’s exactly how God’s Kingdom is run, just as Jesus’ followers show by their lives too.

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