By Olivia of WangGuk
What is the “Kingdom”? What do we mean when we say “the Kingdom of God”? There are many answers to this question— lots of opinions and interpretations out there. This post is about my own thoughts about the Kingdom.
Now, I am no biblical scholar; I am no expert on the New or Old Testaments; I’m not a nun or a monk or anyone who has spent incredibly copious amounts of time in the Word. But I do love God. And I do love His people here on Earth; and I want to see His Kingdom come here. So with that being said, when I think of the Kingdom of God, I think of Earth. This may be strange or unorthodox to some because many equate Heaven to the Kingdom of God. And I do agree— Heaven, this perfect place or state of mind or whatever you want to think of it as, is the fulfilled Kingdom of God— I do think that. But I also think that Heaven is not this far-off place up in the clouds, like how I always kind of ended up picturing it in Sunday school. I think of it, rather, as the manifestation of God’s master plan here on Earth. I think of the Kingdom of God as Heaven brought to Earth.
When I think of what Heaven will look like, it looks just like Earth to me— but Earth perfected. It looks like God’s people living the way they were meant to live. It looks like peace; it looks like love. And when I think of people “living as they were meant to live,” it looks like this: that there is no unwholesome talk that comes from anyone’s mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen; that each are living a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us; that we are submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 4.29, 5.2, 5.21). When I think of the Earth perfected— when I think of the people perfected— I imagine a world where every single person is living for the benefit of his brother. A world where no one is thinking of himself first, but thinking of what will help others. A world where we are constantly working for each other and not for ourselves. When I think of what humanity would look like perfected, it would look like each one of us striving to push one another to reach each of our fullest and greatest potentials. Like I’ll probably say a thousand times in posts to come, I think God made us for each other— I think people were made for people. And we are our best selves when we are living for the betterment of each other and not simply focusing on ourselves.
This is the greatest strength; that we don’t live for our own success, but to see each other grow and mature— to consider the growth of a brother or sister more important than oneself. When I see this world perfected, I see no one doing anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility considering others better than ourselves (Philippians 2.3, 2.4). And I think that kind of defines what I see sin or darkness as: the inward curvature of the self. We are never unhealthier than when we are completely focused on our own personal gain. When selfishness overcomes us, rather than sacrifice. It may seem counter-intuitive in some ways, but the healthiest we can be as individuals is when we’re living, not for ourselves, but for each other. And I think that is the greatest love we can achieve as well— that we want what is the absolute best for our brother or sister, no matter the cost on our own parts. The way I will love someone best is to want what is absolutely best for him, what causes him to be the best and healthiest version of himself, no matter the cost for me. That building someone else up is more important than building myself up. This is how we should be living. And once we’re living like that, I think the Kingdom will have reached Earth.
When people talk about the Earth ending in fire, that the world we see now will have to be completely destroyed for the new one to come, I used to disagree because I thought of the Earth perfected as simply the end of Earth as we know it and the beginning of how it should be. But now, I don’t have a problem with this because, just as we are refined by the flame to become gold— as trials mold us into more of who we ought to be— the Earth is constantly being refined through flame as well. There’s a lot of crap still left in this world; there’s a lot of darkness still lurking around. It’s because we’re not there yet; we’re still a work in progress— this world is still a work in progress. When we look around, we still see people living for themselves, still living in selfishness and in greed. When the time comes for Heaven to have reached Earth and this Earth becomes the redeemed and working Kingdom of God, we will be living in sacrificial love for each other and working with and for one another in perfect harmony. I don’t think this Earth has to be destroyed and made again for that to happen— what would be much more impressive to me is watching a full transformation of what’s already here.
In short, the Kingdom starts here and now, and I love watching this work in progress— every step of it. We’re still going to mess up because we aren’t to that perfected Kingdom yet, but we’re being refined, and that’s a blessing. The Kingdom starts here, and in the words of one of the wisest artists I know, “the revolution will not be televised; the revolution is in your mind; the revolution is here” (Kwon “G-Dragon” JiYong). The Kingdom starts with Kingdom mentality. If we start thinking in love, chances are we’ll end up acting in love. And chances are, if we start thinking of each other as Kingdom members, as brothers and sisters, that Kingdom will start building around us faster than we could have imagined.
Isn’t it kind of amazing that God would choose to build His Kingdom out of people like us? When I think about it, I consider that God didn’t have to create at all…but He did. For whatever the reason. And I’m really glad He did. What better way to show the actual power of His Love than to take self-serving people like us and build a Kingdom of sacrificial love out of us?