“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,” he said. ‘Thy kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:14-15 (NIV)
New International Version
What message is the Holy Spirit speaking presently to the church of America? Is the Spirit disrupting us? Is the Spirit challenging us? Is the Spirit shattering our long-held false gospels of legalism, libertinism, and the political agendas so many Christians hold to today?
Noted author Frank Viola believes so, and in his most recent work entitled, Insurgence – Reclaiming the Gospel Of The Kingdom, charges both Christians on the progressive left as well as the conservative right with equating incorrectly their particular viewpoints with the kingdom of God. Viola asks questions similar to ones I have asked, “Why does the allegiance that radical terrorists give to their false cause exceed that allegiance that most Christians today give to Jesus Christ? Have we lost the explosive, earthshaking gospel of the kingdom that Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles preached? Have we exchanged this revolutionary, titanic, living gospel for a gospel of religious duty or permissiveness and ‘easy believism’?”
In essence, the kingdom, the dominion of God is at the heart of God’s eternal purpose. It points to the universal glory, fullness, rule of God, and the exercise of God’s image and authority through human beings. In Jesus’ own acts and words God’s realm and reign has been revealed. We join a present day spiritual insurgence and reclaim the lost kingdom message by deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ and entering into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church.
Through creative imagination and communal reinforcement via the church, our living by faith entails maintaining a vivid sense of God’s kingdom or God’s counter-reality as more real than apparent reality itself. Consequently, our task is not to save the world. God alone can do that. Our task is to witness to the freedom of human life which Jesus inaugurated from the power of death, the threat of death, and the fear of death. Specific and incessant struggle against death’s rule is the only way for us to live as Christians in an inhuman world. It is the only way to hear the message the Spirit is speaking to us. Remember, in the words of biblical scholar Walter Wink, “The passion that drove the early Christians to evangelistic zeal was not fueled by the relief at being freed from the delusional game being played by Satan to their own detriment, and by the determination to set others free.”