When you’re new to the Vineyard, it can be surprising to hear the kingdom of God talked about so much. It’s written into our values, we talk about it in classes and in sermons and in our children’s curriculum. We talk about it when we train people to be on the prayer ministry team. We talk about it when we give away food or minister to people on the streets. So, why is this so important? Why do we need to keep teaching and talking about it?
1. Jesus couldn’t stop talking about it.
The kingdom of God was Jesus’ primary message during his ministry on earth. “The kingdom of God is at hand.” “The kingdom of God has come upon you.” “The kingdom of God is like…” But it wasn’t just all talk for Jesus. Yes, Jesus talked about the kingdom, he also demonstrated its power. People were healed. The demonized were set free. The poor, enslaved, and marginalized heard the good news. He taught about it, but he expected people to experience it when they met him, too. He taught about it, but he expected people to experience it when they met him, too. And that’s what we want, also. We want to teach about the kingdom so that people will start to experience it in their everyday lives.
2. The Kingdom is the overarching metanarrative of Scripture.
The story of the Bible makes the most sense when you read it through the lens of the kingdom of God. God’s plan is first hinted at in Genesis 3:15—Satan will be crushed and the Son of Man will be wounded. From that moment, God’s Kingdom was amassing to break into Satan’s kingdom and to restore God’s good rule and reign to the earth. Everything in the rest of Scripture relates to the promise of God’s Kingdom arriving on earth and advancing until the end of Revelation when “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Once we get this, everything else in scripture makes way more sense.
3. The Kingdom of God is the basis for our values.
All the things we care the most about—partnering with the Holy Spirit, worship, reconciliation, compassion, and cultural relevance—flow from our understanding of the Kingdom of God. We partner with the Holy Spirit because heaven is present and active here and now. We want to get in line with what God is doing among us. We talk about encountering God in worship because we get to experience the kingdom when we worship. We work to bring peace and reconciliation because those are characteristics of God’s kingdom. We reach out to the weak and marginalized because we know those people have honor and value there. We strive to communicate in ways that people can actually understand so that everyone gets the opportunity to take part in what God is doing.
4. It helps us minister to people in pain.
The narrative of God’s kingdom helps makes sense of the broken, painful, fallen world we live in. The already and the not yet of the kingdom—the fact that we’re in a war that has been won but is not finished yet between God’s kingdom and Satan’s—helps us minister to broken, hurt, abused, and grieving people with grace and a clear conscience. It enables us to love them like Jesus does—compassionately, without assigning blame or giving pat answers.