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The Kingdom of God

The phrase 'The Kingdom of God' or sometimes 'The Kingdom of Heaven', was in effect, Jesus Christ's campaign slogan.

Read time: 4 minutes and 25 seconds

The phrase ‘The Kingdom of God’, or sometimes ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’, was, in effect, Jesus Christ’s campaign slogan as he travelled around the Middle East 2,000 years ago teaching about God and miraculously healing people. He used the phrase repeatedly. The concept was one of the most important parts of his teaching and it is a key idea in the Christian faith. Jesus talked about the kingdom coming and what it was like. And yet Jesus did not fully explain what he meant. Often he used stories (known as parables) to give clues about it and he encouraged people to think deeply about the idea. He suggested that it was incredibly valuable and worth sacrificing everything to acquire. He said it was like a tiny seed which had the potential to grow into a huge tree. But he also suggested it was hard to enter for the wealthy and comfortable.

The phrase ‘The Kingdom of God’, or sometimes ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’, was, in effect, Jesus Christ’s campaign slogan.

The Kingdom of God is not a territory. It is not a particular people or ethnic group. It is not linked to a particular point in history. Instead it is like a completely new way of living and thinking, where God takes precedence in a person’s life and they begin to think and behave differently. It is as if God has become their King and every aspect of their life has changed. Instead of living as they want, they follow God’s ways and promptings. The result is radical and counter-cultural. It affects the person but also the world around them. If the Kingdom of God has a geographical place at all it is a place’ where God’s will and desire is being done; a place whereGod is in control. Christians believe that if they live their lives with God in control and with his inspiration, they become a positive, godly influence on society. They exhibit the Kingdom of God in action because they demonstrate God’s characteristics such as forgiveness and humility; sacrifice and selflessness; compassion and love, even for their enemies; and a thirst for justice. Access to the Kingdom of God is a gift from God. It is open to people from all nations, all classes, all cultures and all backgrounds. But the offer of access requires a response from people.

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Christianity The Kingdom of God

Christianity teaches that it was Jesus Christ’s arrival on Earth that brought the prospect of people entering the Kingdom of God. Just before Jesus began his time of teaching, a radical speaker known as John the Baptist had built up a following among the Jewish people. John had a clear message: people had to change their ways and turn to God. The Bible book, Matthew, quotes him saying, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near’. John’s message was popular because the Jewish people had been waiting for centuries for a Messiah – a leader promised in their ancient writings who would bring them freedom. He was getting them ready for Jesus. Not long afterwards, Jesus began to teach people with a similar refrain. As the Bible book, Mark, put it, ‘Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news”’.

the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor…’

Jesus made it clear that he was the fulfilment of those ancient Hebrew writings about a coming Messiah. When questioned about what he was doing by some of John’s followers the Bible book, Matthew, tells us he replied, ‘the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor…’ Jesus was ushering in the Kingdom of God. At one point in his time of teaching, Jesus sent his 12 closest followers, the disciples, on a mission. He gave them power to cure ill people and get rid of evil spirits. The Bible book, Luke, records ‘he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick’. These miraculous things were happening because Jesus had divine authority.

Christians believe that God made the world perfect but humanity’s disobedience to him brought in evil and death. Jesus, in bringing the Kingdom of God, was restoring things to the way they were meant to be. But the coming of the Kingdom of God is still a work in progress. Christianity teaches that it will be fully in place at a future point when there is a new Heaven and Earth and God lives among humanity. Jesus also gave a clue about the other-worldliness of the Kingdom of God when he was put on trial. The Bible book, John, says he told the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, ‘my kingdom is not of this world…now my kingdom is from another place’.

Jesus also taught his followers to pray ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ as part of what is known as the Lord’s Prayer. Christians all over the world still pray this prayer frequently.