Assuming that God created the world in which we live (but certainly not assuming that such creation was accomplished in six days some six thousand years ago), what was God’s reason for creating this world and what is God’s main desire for us humans who inhabit it?
In keeping with what we know of God through Jesus Christ and the witness of the Holy Spirit, we can say that God created the world because of love and only because of love.
And God lovingly created this world with the purpose of there being a realm of existence filled with persons who would love God and each other. That realm is known as the Kingdom of God.
Yes, there are problems with the use of the word “kingdom.” It can be criticized for being “sexist” or archaic. Perhaps some other term would be better—such as “realm” or the creative word “kindom.”
But since “kingdom” has been used for so long and is still used even in most newer translations of the Bible, I have decided to stay with it—and to focus on what it means as an expression of God’s purpose for creation.
In many Christian circles, there has been a widespread belief that the kingdom of God is mainly something coming in the future.
But I have long liked the both/and approach of Georgia Harkness in her book Understanding the Kingdom of God, published in 1974, the year of her death:
The Kingdom of God is both present and future; both a growth and a final consummation by God. It is our task and our hope—our task which we face with the power of Christ; our hope that the last word will be spoken by God and that that last word will be victory. The Kingdom means both acceptance and action, a gift and a task. We work for it and we wait for it (pp. 61-62).
This is consistent with the emphasis of Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), who placed strong emphasis on the idea that the kingdom of God is both here now and also coming in the future. “The kingdom is always but coming” is a (somewhat awkward) phrase he often used.
|Words of Walter Rauschenbusch|
If God’s main desire for creation is the realization of the kingdom of God, beginning now, it should be evident that God’s primary desire for us humans is not just the happiness of individuals (although that may be an important spinoff).
Much of Christianity over the centuries, perhaps especially in the United States, has been much too other-worldly and much too individualistic.
Other-worldly views of the Kingdom of God have not placed enough emphasis on life in this world and the responsibility of Christians to wrestle against sinful societal structures that harm so many people now.
Similarly, individualistic views of the kingdom of God means focusing on one’s “soul” being saved for eternal life in Heaven after death, with little concern for life in a community of love in the “here and now.”
If we understand, though, that God’s main desire is the realization of the kingdom of God, beginning now and culminating in the realm beyond earthly history, then we are freed from the errors of excessive other-worldliness and of individualism.
Thus, one thing that everyone needs to know, and act upon, now is that God’s main desire for the world is the realization of the kingdom of God—beginning in this world now.
Next, we need to consider the primary characteristic of the kingdom of God, which is shalom (peace), the main topic of the next chapter.
[Click here to read the entire fifth chapter of Thirty Things Everyone Needs to Know Now.]