The kingdom involves every ordinary thing

One of the easy observations to make in the Scriptures is that Jesus spoke a great deal about what he called the good news of the kingdom of God.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” [Mark 1:14-15]

…he [Jesus] said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” [Luke 4:43]

After his resurrection, the Scriptures say, the Lord Christ…

…presented himself alive to them [the disciples] by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. [Acts 1:3]

Also, we observe that the apostles followed his example.

But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. [Acts 8:12]

He [Paul] lived there for two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. [Acts 28:30-31]

The Old Testament also speaks often of the kingdom. All this shows the importance of the topic to a biblical understanding of life. Which raises two obvious questions. 1. What would it mean to witness to the kingdom of God in my life? And 2. Does it matter?

Let me answer the second question first, “Does it matter?” Well, yes. If, that is, we want to be like Jesus and follow the Apostolic tradition. So, assuming the answer to that is yes, what would it mean to be a faithful witness to the kingdom of God in our lives today?

It can be difficult for Americans to get our minds around the notion of a kingdom. Such a notion seems foreign, quaint, or retrograde—after all, we live in and believe in democracy. But our faith declares we have a king. And we should live that reality out and celebrate it.

The Nicene Creed affirms, “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ…and his kingdom will have no end.” The kingdom of God is the realm and reign of Jesus as Lord, and he is Lord over all of life, culture, and reality. This means that there is nothing in created reality over which Christ does not say, “This is mine!” The implications of this for our daily lives slowly unfolds in an ever-deepening understanding. It embraces all the big things, of course, but all the tiny, ordinary things, which is my main concern here.

It includes faithfulness in “little” things—here’s an example. When we lived in Rochester, we came to know numerous staff at Mayo Clinic. One transplant physician was a follower of Jesus. He worked hard to be excellent in his vocation, but what he was known for on the floor was that he made a point of knowing every person’s name. Not just every attending doctor, mind you, but every student, nurse, lab tech, secretary, and custodian. Every person, no matter their job or expertise or position in the medical hierarchy was significant in his sight. Every person on the floor was made in the image of God and therefore was treated with equal dignity and respect. He was witnessing to the reality of God’s kingdom, demonstrating that Christ is Lord.

On a larger scale, because Christ is Lord, we believe the Scriptures speak intelligently and creatively to every aspect of life and culture. So, a transplant surgeon will be able to root her calling and ethics and practice of medicine in the revelation of God’s word. It’ll take some serious study and work, but it’s within reach, because the Holy Spirit is at work in us. The same is true for every vocation, whether custodian or home-care provider or mechanic or artist or physicist or whatever. If you have never done some serious reading for yourself along this line, contact Byron Borger at Hearts & Minds Books, who is gifted in connecting individuals with books that will help them learn to think Christianly about their vocation.

But back to the smaller things. The specifics of our faithfulness to Christ’s Lordship will be determined by the details of our lives. Are there people who are subtly looked down on where we work? We can give them our attention. Are there needs for meals in your community, say by the homeless? For $100 we can buy a pile of hamburgers to distribute on the street. A church in Arizona always has a booth during the summer arts festival—it’s held outside, and hot and dry—and they distribute free water without fanfare. Is there a gay couple in your neighborhood that is adopting, or having a child? That child deserves our support so we can gladly attend the baby shower and bring a sweet, helpful gift. If I discover my neighbor is interested in Buddhism, I can ask them what I should read on it that we can talk together about it. My wife occasionally makes a pan of sweet rolls and gives it to a neighbor. When you meet a None, ask them about their spiritual journey and listen with compassion, interest, and without judgement.

We can live out kingdom values across all of life and culture because Jesus is Lord of all. One of the things I appreciate about the Anglican tradition of which we are a part, is the fact that we are encouraged (though not required) to bow to the processional cross at the beginning of each worship service. This can become, I realize, a mindless ritual, but it isn’t mindless for me. I need the reminder—regularly—that I have a king, am a member of his kingdom and that this is the primary allegiance to which I bear witness. All other authorities and powers that ask for my allegiance—political, tribal, economic—are secondary, at best. Which is why I don’t have to be fearful for the future even if I find both candidates unsuitable for office.

This is why in an age of uncertainty I can remain grateful, joyful, and hopeful. I have a king! This too is a witness to the kingdom. I will need to think through how to speak of this without sounding sentimental or unrealistic, but that is doable, especially in Christian community.

We must never ignore or be dismissive about the little ways we can witness to Christ’s Lordship. Who knows what God might do with our faithfulness?

Photo credit: Photo by Hassan Pasha on Unsplash (<a href=””>Hassan Pasha</a> on <a href=””>Unsplash</a>)