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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Explore God's Love

Defining the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God is like standing on your head and seeing the world upside down. It is seeing things differently. It is seeing things the way God apparently sees them. God, according to Jesus, sees greatness in small people and things and actions, in the seemingly insignificant people and events we tend to overlook. God
is looking for justice and fairness and peace. One Bible scholar says that 'Your Kingdom Come' should be translated "Set the world right."
To set the world right means to make the world a better place. It may surprise us to know that when Jesus tells us, his disciples, to pray for the coming of the kingdom, he means the outer conditions of the world as much, if not more, than in human hearts. Jesus was a social activist; he died to set the world right.
It seems to me that he would be urging us today to act for justice, to speak up for better schools, to get to the core of the causes of poverty and addiction. Jesus would tell us to talk more about peace and less about war. To build weapons of massive peace initiatives while we take action to protect innocent people from mass destruction. It is not always comfortable to raise these issues, but as Barbara
Taylor says, "Jesus needs followers, not admirers."

~ Mimsy Jones

Where is the kingdom of God?

By The Rev. Bill Stroop

The “Kingdom of God” is a phrase used extensively in the New Testament, particularly by the writers of the Gospels. The Kingdom is described in metaphorical terms (the kingdom is like …) in order to evoke a visceral understanding of the greatness of God’s love and the limitless bounty of God’s grace. New Testament kingdom language is a natural extension of Old Testament concepts of God’s grace and unconditional love. But, the New Testament concept of the Kingdom is also influenced by the philosophy of ancient Israel and Greece.

The ancient Israelites as well as the Greeks saw the divine and the heavenly realm as distinctly separate from the earthly realm (Gen 1:1, 2:1). Likewise, the Greek notion of the divine (the primary mover) was something static and unchanging; and outside or beyond the corruptible and changeable earth. Both perspectives saw God and heaven as transcendent. But the Gospel writers were trying to describe something totally new. In the person of Jesus Christ, they saw an incarnational God; an immanent God. In describing the Kingdom of God, they struggled to reconcile their traditional Hebraic and Greek philosophical views of the divine with their personal revelatory experience of Jesus as the incarnate Son of God. Mark and Luke described the Kingdom as something nearby (e.g., Mk. 1:15, Lk. 10:9-11). Luke however, also described the Kingdom as something within each one of us (Lk. 17:21). In contrast, John described Jesus’ kingdom as something not of this world. Such apparently contrasting views confound and disappoint someone seeking to determine the literal location of the Kingdom of God. And that is entirely the point.

The incarnation of Jesus as a manifestation of the God who is with us is perhaps the fundamental point of Christianity. Jesus was both divine (transcendent) and human (immanent) who taught us that the Kingdom is within our grasp if we can learn to love God with all our soul, with all our heart, and with all our mind, and to love our neighbors as our self.God’s Kingdom is less a place or an idea than it is a total commitment to love one another, for it is through our love of one another that we become the agents of God willing to work to bring about God’s Kingdom on the earth in the present time. That Kingdom is a union of free human beings united to God and to each other; it is the fullest manifestation of the transcendent holiness and incarnate wholeness of Being. The Kingdom is already here, yet is still to come, and it will come by God’s grace with the free cooperation of the human race.

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