“And he [Jesus] went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matt. 4:23). While Jesus was on earth, he preached a message of good news. But this wasn’t just any good news. It was the good news of God’s kingdom; his kingdom. For centuries Christians have debated the what, when, and how of the kingdom of God. Some argue that the kingdom of God is only in the future, while others argue for something more abstract that takes place in the present. I would simply describe the kingdom as the saving rule and reign of God. The kingdom of God is the place where The Lord’s will is taken seriously. Afterall, Jesus did pray to the Father, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10-11). This is why the gospel isn’t just a message of salvation, it is a message of transformation. There’s a new king in town and his name is Jesus.
So, what does the kingdom mean for us now? I like the metaphor of the church as an embassy of the kingdom. In 2 Corinthians 20, Paul says that Christians “are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” This political language was very fitting for the time of Paul’s writing. For Christians to proclaim “Jesus is Lord” was not merely a religious declaration but was unavoidably political. The Greeks saw this as a rejection of their emperor while the Jews understood it as a direct attack on their religious authorities. The church is a people who experience the rule of Christ together as those willingly submitted to his lordship above all else. We are a distinct people as citizens of the Messiah’s kingdom. We have a unique worldview, ethic, and purpose in life. We are emissaries for Christ, inviting people into his glorious kingdom and declaring that this king has come and is returning to wipe out the power of sin and to establish an everlasting heaven on earth. Our words should be similar to those of Jesus saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).