For the last several years “Kingdom of God” has become a bit of a catch phrase amongst Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians. Many have rightly brought out the contrast between the Church and the Kingdom. Unfortunately, many have promoted the Kingdom at the expense of the church, which is highly ironic because aside from being Jesus’ personal building project (see Matthew 16.18), the Church happens to be the primary conveyance OF the Kingdom! At any rate, it seems as though we’ve spent a good amount of energy detailing what the Kingdom is not (e.g. church services, personal devotional time, fasting, etc.), while most of the talk about what it actually is centers on either personal prosperity (for the advancement of the Kingdom, of course!), or personal license in an effort to validate carnal living as “spiritual” (as opposed to religious).
In the book of Acts I think we are given an incredible description of what Kingdom living really is. Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom with his resurrection and ascension. Now his body is in the earth, participating in the expansion of this Kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit. And while some would eagerly – and rightly – examine specific concepts such as the early believers’ communal lifestyle, I would like to consider the foundational principles that seem to underlay those concepts. For this discussion, I’m not so much interested in wonder and glory that was the Upper Room encounter of the Holy Spirit, but how these newly empowered disciples lived that encounter out…the kingdom emergence!
Maybe we should start with Peter, who is the primary voice in the second chapter of Acts. It’s been discussed at length that perhaps the main evidence of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of Peter is that the coward who denied Christ to a servant girl, now boldly proclaimed him to the masses in Jerusalem. But the content – the spirit – of Peter’s message is what intrigues me. He is quick to put the event in a prophetic context (“this is that”…). This must not be overlooked! How often do we pursue and consider spiritual encounters as personal experiences, getting our “breakthrough” if you will? Aren’t we prone to describe a “move of God” in notions of blessings or revival, while overlooking the greater context of God doing something in the earth that is profoundly connected to history? In other words, Peter doesn’t say, “We got our blessing!” – he says, “God has done what he said he was going to do, so many years ago!” Yes, they got a blessing – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – but that was the by-product of God’s faithfulness, which was the focus of Peter’s comments.
Maybe Kingdom people are those who don’t see themselves as the being the point of it all. Maybe being in the Kingdom means losing an individualistic mindset and embracing our connectedness to what God is and has been doing in the earth. Maybe the Kingdom disciple is the one who is so obsessed with Christ that even our blessings and experiences in the Spirit are seen as something far greater than that. The Kingdom of God connects us to the work of God, and while that work is profoundly personal, it is historically and anthropologically vast! If we are going to walk about, chatting up “the Kingdom” it would seem we must be people who are keenly aware of history and prophecy, NOT personal prosperity or experience.