The Father’s Kingdom is Here
If God is forever and everywhere, and if God is sovereign — the ruler over all things for all time — then God’s kingdom is forever and everywhere. God’s kingdom would not only exist in a distant heaven and in another dimension. God’s kingdom would have to exist here and now, in this place and time. Even if the Earth and our lives and material reality seem very far from God, God is still king.
Hard to believe? When war and hunger and pain and meanness prevail, the kingdom of the world feels like the only one. It is the one that we experience through our senses. The kingdom of the world presses down on our bodies and our emotions. It demands our attention and our subservience in a way that the kingdom of God does not. God invites. The world insists. The contrast can be so stark that we begin to believe that God’s kingdom must be a very long way off. Heaven becomes a “there” or a “then” instead of the here and now Jesus made available.
Two kingdoms, one life: the rabbitduck
Living with Jesus in the kingdom of God while we are also living in the kingdom of the world can be a little like this classic optical illusion. Do you first notice the rabbit (with its nose to the right and ears to the left) or a duck (with its bill to the left)? If you get stuck seeing just one or the other, a friend who can see both can help point out the details of the other.
Both the duck and the rabbit are really there, even if you can only see one of them. They are both there. It is the same with the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. Both are really here, right now. We have to learn to see both, to live in the reality of both. Jesus did. As both flesh and spirit, Jesus experienced both the “sensual” reality of the world and the spiritual reality of the heavens. As God’s son, Jesus invites us to live with him in his Father’s kingdom. As our friend, he is also the one who points out the details so we can see it. If we keep looking through his eyes, living the way he did, his Father’s kingdom becomes as clear, distinct, and compelling a picture as the kingdom of the world. We can see both and live in both.
Before Jesus’ coming, the good news of God’s kingdom had been mediated only through God’s chosen people. Now, the door to this good news—that all people can become part of God’s loving community, in this life now and in the life to come—is flung wide open as that community of perfectly loving persons is made visible in Jesus Christ. This is the life to which we are invited. This is what it looks like to have an abundant life with God. This is the way to find it, live in it, rejoice in it, and help bring others into it.
The real Kingdom lasts forever
Here’s where the analogy between the drawing and the two kingdoms falls apart. The duck and the rabbit are equally real in the drawing. But only the kingdom of God lasts forever. It is the really real.
This post is part of the God Ideas Series.