Our Jesus was and is the Lord of the party. This book is an attempt to make that point blatantly clear. It is an attempt to highlight an often-forgotten dimension of what Christianity is all about: The Kingdom of God is a party!
In the Kingdom, all people will live out the life God planned for them when He first created the human race. In the Kingdom, family life, economic life, and political life will be lived out in accord with the plan of God. The Kingdom of God will be a society in which all people acknowledge God as King and relate to each other in ways prescribed by His love. This reconstructed world marked by justice will be a world in which evil will be vanquished, poverty will be eliminated, and war will be no more.
This image was biblical and it was powerful.
Tony Campolo, The Kingdom of God Is a Party, p. 9,14 (1990).
More importantly, all our modern savvy may be wonderful beyond words, but compared with the strategic leadership of the Spirit of God, it is puny to the point of absurdity. Only a fool could mistake a bauble for crown, and only a simpleton could confuse the information and knowledge of the City of Man for the real wisdom of the City of God. Even in the grand age of leadership seminars, management studies and project management, and the countless bestsellers on the umpteen secrets of business success, it is the Spirit of God who leads the advance of the kingdom of God.
Put differently again, Jesus tells his followers to seek first God's kingdom, "and all these things will be added to you." We are to trust and obey God, and to follow his call in every inch of our lives, in every second of our time, and with every gift with which we have been endowed. And we are then to leave the result as well as the assessment to God.
Just so did the unknown men and women of the Middle Ages
build the great cathedrals and the first universities. We glory in all the beauty, truth and goodness brought into the world, as well as the peace, justice, freedom and human dignity, but such great culture is usually a by-product and not a conscious objective. The kingdom of God is our goal, in all its fully orbed richness throughout our daily lives. All the rest is the added value that, by God's grace, comes with it.
Os Guinness, Renaissance, p. 104, 111 (2014).
Who transferred us into the Kingdom of HIS Son of Love? Col. 1:13
The Gospel according to the Mark begins the story of Jesus’ ministry with these significant words: “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel'" (1:14-15). Mark thus makes it plain that the burden of Jesus’ preaching was to announce the Kingdom of God; that was the central thing with which he was concerned. A reading of the teachings of Jesus as they are found in the Gospels only serves to bear this statement out. Everywhere the Kingdom of God is on his lips, and it is always a matter of desperate importance
John Bright, The Kingdom of God, p. 17 (1953).
One thing that may mislead us about the meaning of "at hand" in Jesus' basic message is the fact that other "kingdoms" are still present on earth along with the kingdom of the heavens. They too are “at hand.” That is the human condition. Persons other than God, such as you or I, are still allowed on earth to have a “say” that is contrary to his will. A kingdom of darkness is here, certainly, and the kingdoms of many individuals who are still “trying to run their own show.”
All of this God still permits. And the lack of human unity in intelligent love under God not only leaves us at the mercy of man-made disasters, such as wars, famine, and oppression, but also prevents our dealing successfully with many so-called natural evils, such as disease, scarcity, and weather-related disasters. So, along with the “already here” there obviously remains a “not yet” aspect with regard to God's present rule on earth.
Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, p. 29 (1998).
The gospels suggest that the kingdom of God is inverted or upside down when compared with the conventionally accepted values, norms, and relationships of ancient Palestinian society and of modern culture today. This does not mean that the kingdom is geographically or socially isolated from the center of society. This is not a plea for social avoidance or withdrawal. Neither does this perspective assume a church-world split with the social territory neatly staked off into two separate plots of ungodly and holy ground. Kingdom action doesn't take place outside of the societal ball park. It’s a different game played in the middle of the old ball park. Kingdom players follow different rules and listen to a different coach. Patterns of social organization which are routinely taken for granted in modern culture are questioned by kingdom values. Kingdom ways of living do not mesh smoothly with the dominant society.
The kingdom of God is not only upside down, it’s also normative and relevant to our situation today. In other words, the secrets of the kingdom speak to the issues and dilemmas of our day.
Donald B. Kraybill, The Upside Down Kingdom, p. 24 (1978).
We bring new questions to ancient traditions and texts. Instead of primary asking, "How do I get to heaven when I die?" more of us wonder, “What does it look like to live conscious of God and God's purposes in the present moment?” We are rediscovering the holistic and integrative nature of the gospel of Jesus as "the good news of the kingdom" (Luke 16:16). Jesus continually spoke of a kingdom, characterized by love, that is both present and progressing. He invited his followers to "seek the kingdom" and pray that the kingdom would become "on earth as it is in heaven." He invites us into a way of life in the kingdom in which we are empowered to live without worry, fear or lust; to love our enemies and reconcile with one another; to live in generosity and trust and to instinctively care for those who are hungry, thirsty, sick, naked and lonely.
Mark Scandrette, Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love, p. 20 (2010).
It’s here. It’s happening.
It’s right in the room with you.
It has broken into our time and space and is subversively working to overcome the darkness of our age. The kingdom of God is a radical reaction of every value or point of view that keeps people in bondage to untruth, blinded to Christ's mercy. It is a refusal to classify any person as being expendable or beyond reach, an unwillingness to view any situation as something that cannot be transformed and infused with hope. It means knowing that while not everything will be made perfectly right on this earth or in this era, we have opportunities to witness the kingdom's reality this week on every street, in every neighborhood, and in every nation of the world.
The kingdom of God lives.
And you and 1—undeserving recipients of God's forgiving grace—have been made a part of it. Active participants in it. Agents of change under the rule of our Lord and King, called to join him on a mission that is sure to be victorious in the end. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been made a citizen of this kingdom.
Because everywhere he leads, his kingdom follows.
But not in ways we might expect.
Ed Stetzer, Subversive Kingdom, p. 8 (2012).
What is the yoke of Christ? Well, this language referred to oxen in Jesus’ day, and it can refer to horses or other animals. It speaks of two animals being yoked together to pull a load. To be in the yoke with Christ is to pull his load with him. What is his load? It is to bring the reign of God into ordinary human life. That is why he came the way he did, lived the way he did and died the the way he did. In the midst of a world of ordinary human life he was pulling the load of bringing the kingdom of God into ordinary human life. That was his message. And his message was to everyone.
Rethink your thinking. Repent, as Jesus commanded in Matthew 4:17. Repent just means to turn back on how you are thinking about things and to reconsider. Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is now available to you. That was his message and if we are going to walk in the easy yoke with Jesus and have the light load that he gives—not light inherently, but light because of who we are yoked to—we need to understand that we are working with the kingdom of God.
Dallas Willard, Living in Christ’s Presence, p. 15 (2014).
As E. Stanley Jones wrote over four decades ago, Jesus' message "was the Kingdom of God. It was the center and circumference of all He taught and did….The Kingdom of God is the master-conception, the master-plan, the master-purpose, the master-will that gathers everything up into itself and gives it redemption, coherence, purpose, goal.”
True, seeing the kingdom of God as the only unifying theme of Scripture could be misleading. Personally, I believe the overarching truth is the revelation of the nature and character of God (not merely his existence, which is clear from the created order— Rom 1:20). Here God's love, justice and holiness are central—the character of God's person in his tri-unity. Still the reign/rule God is a key theme of Scripture, for the loving, just, holy God rules consistent with his character and in a way that produces the reflection of his character in all who willingly serve him.
Howard A. Snyder, A Kingdom Manifesto, p. 13 (1985).