Does the Kingdom of God belong to this world?

Happy Moltmann Monday! Last night at Journey we were talking about creation care and it made me think of this passage from Jesus Christ for Today’s World. Moltmann uses some questions about the kingdom to clarify his theological positions. Here’s his second clarifying question, and his response:

Does the Kingdom of God belong to this world, like an earthly kingdom, or is it a heavenly kingdom in the next?

The people who would like to see it as belonging to the next world always point to Jesus’ saying that ‘my kingdom is not of this world’ (John 18:36). But in so doing they are overlooking the fact that this is a statement about the origin of the kingdom, not its place…When Jesus said these words the kingdom of God in person was standing in front of Rome’s imperial governor, Pontius Pilate. If it is the kingdom of the Creator God, then it embraces the whole of creation, heaven and earth, the invisible side of the world and the visible side, too…

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray for the coming of the kingdom ‘on earth as it is in heaven’, meaning by heaven the side of creation which already corresponds wholly to God, and by earth the side of creation which is still in dispute…

So there is no salvation without the earth.  God’s kingdom is as earthly as Jesus himself was…

Two things I love about this: Moltmann so succinctly described how we confuse origin and place. (We also confuse metaphor with literalism but don’t even get me started on that…) And also, he pretty cleanly described what we mean by “on earth as it is in heaven.” There, we confuse location (a contrast between the place of heaven and the place of earth) with a state of being (whole or broken). It’s because this prayer is not about place that we can say we see the kingdom of heaven among us. We don’t mean we accidentally slipped into some other dimension of reality, apart from this one. We mean that we see something whole in the midst of other broken things.

The kingdom of God is among us, and every once in a while we see it- it’s wholeness.

 

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