The kingdom is in the process of coming. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray, ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’
God is already king of everything, even though His reign is not yet fully manifest in our societies. As we engage in making disciples of all people in every strata of our multicultural pluralistic society, we need to be praying that our lives model the life of Christ whose love unites all peoples. The kingdom is coming now, although in another sense it is not yet. We must be careful not to project it into the future and leave it there without also praying for its influence to grow in our communities, like the proverbial mustard seed of Jesus’ kingdom parable.
If we push the kingdom of God into the future and dissect it from the present, it will be of no effect in the world now. God’s kingdom is here now, as well as being part of the not yet when it will be fully and finally established. The kingdom is the mustard plant growing in our own historical context today, and is on display through Christian communities that live out their picture of Christ the Lord of peace, and who incarnate as Christ’s ministering hands and feet with people of no or little faith.
We need to foreshadow the coming kingdom through our lifestyles based on the likeness of Jesus, the one we follow and upon whom we model our lives. The kingdom is in a continuous process of arriving now, and this is what we should frame our missional community identities upon. The kingdom will finally become completely manifest when a tipping point is reached and Jesus returns to renew the earth.
by Dr Andy Hardy
Andy Hardy is the Undergraduate Programme Director for the BA Hons in Theology and Mission. He has also authored and co-authored three books recently, Pictures of God: Shaping Missional Church Life, Forming Multicultural Partnerships: Church Planting in a Divided Society, Power and the Powers: The Use and Abuse of Power in the Missional Context.
ForMission College offers courses on practical and applied missional theology. The goal of these modules is to equip future leaders to be able to discern God’s mission in the practical context of their churches and neighbourhoods. One crucial aspect of helping churches to be missionally effective in their neighbourhoods is for the people of the church to develop identities where they seek to become missionaries to western peoples in their communities.
- Matthew 6:10, NRSVA.
N. T. Wright, How God Became King, London: SPCK (2012), pp. 3-24.