Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Kingdom Has Subjects

Matthew | Mark | Luke | John | Acts | King | Ethic

My bloggin' buddy Fajita can stretch a bloggin'-topic series to at least 12 interrelated entries - as he has indeed done with his "Post-Restoration Hope" cycle. It's a dandy, and you shouldn't cheat yourself out of a single installment.

I play out after quite a few less than 12. I've just barnstormed the topic of the kingdom of heaven, and this will pretty much wrap it up as far as I'm concerned.

It won't be typical. There won't be a bulleted list of scriptures linked to Bible Gateway.

The kingdom is a novel concept to us ... possibly because we've only encountered the concept in novels (or movies or theatre). It's not part of our culture. It's almost antithetical to American culture; our ancestors fought the Revolutionary War to get out from under a monarchy. They established our own kind of government. If you don't like it, turn the beggars out after four years and start over.

It's our country and we'll do what we want to with it, thank you.

Kingdoms don't operate that way. There's royalty. And there's subjects. If you're not one, you're the other.

We don't have a clear picture of what it means to be a subject in a monarchy, whether in early Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Israel, Rome, Europe, China or Japan. We don't really like the idea of being subject (verb form) to anyone. We pledge allegiance to ourselves, not to a king or queen.

We don't fully grasp that a king has the final authority. There is no court of appeals.

We don't comprehend that everything in a kingdom, technically, belongs to the king even if he generously lets us use what we have worked hard to earn and purchase.

We don't really appreciate that there is a kind of slavery, of involuntary servitude that is implicit in a royal government.

Or that the best stuff we produce goes to the king.

So the kingdom of heaven is a much more hazy concept to us Americans than it was, say, to first-century Christians ... or medieval serfs ... or even citizens of the United Kingdom.

But it's a term that's as common as grass in scripture and it's here to stay.

If we can't change the name, how can we better embrace the concept?

Because, when it comes right down to it, Fajita and I - and lots of others! - are blogging about the same thing.

Here's my series in the order I wrote 'em:

And here's the question: How can we make the kingdom a clearer concept to ourselves and others?

4 comments:

David U said...

One way to make it clearer is to begin thinking,talking and acting in Kingdom ways instead of "Church" ways. For example, I can't for the life of me believe that the term "brotherhood" is a Kingdom term. It sounds more like a KKK term to me. "MOTC" is another one. Kingdom people are aware that ONLY the King has the right and ability to be exclusive.
The rest of us are just glad to be His servants.....and we want to serve along side anyone else who joins us in serving. Or do we?

don said...

Great point by David...."ONLY the King has the right and ability to be exclusive."

Yep, that's good.

Keith, I've enjoyed the series.My own thought is that there are so many different levels of Kingdom that it IS hard to grasp, especially for those of us who have no history with a physical monarchy. I'm just glad to have been invited in, and if we can start identifying ourselves as blessed subjects instead of judges or arbiters, I think that will do more to reach out and spread the kingdom than anything else we can do.

don

Susie said...

Yes, but what about the concept that we are children of the King? He is still our Father, and we have to obey him, but a prince or princess is a far cry from peasants . . .

Cheers! : )

lee said...

As you've pointed out in great detail, Keith, this is no ordinary kingdom:

The King sacrificed His life to set the slaves free, clothes them in His royal robes, invites them to feast at His royal table, and calls them heirs.

Who wouldn't want to daily swallow and digest the bread--the Word--of this King?