Sunday, February 18, 2018

TTT #5 God’s Main Desire for the World is the Realization of the Kingdom of God

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?
God’s Purpose
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.
God’s Kingdom
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
God’s Desire
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.]


  1. I spend a lot of my time on trying to Help(with Holy Spirit`s help) as many people as I can to get into Heaven.
    I Now admit(after reading your and the one`s writings you refer to in your Blog), that I will Now include both Now and in the future for the `Kindom` of GOD.
    John(Tim) Carr

    1. John Tim, you and I grew up in a church that emphasized the importance of people being "saved" so they would go to Heaven when they die. That was, and is, very important, I think, and we should never lose that emphasis.

      But in reading the Gospels and trying to understand what Jesus taught, it becomes quite clear, I think, that he placed great emphasis on people being incorporated into the Kingdom of God on this earth in the present time.

      I pray that you and I, and the other readers of this blog, will be able to have a proper and balanced view of the Kingdom of God as being both future and present.

    2. Thanks Leroy and your clear explanation has helped me have a proper&balanced view of the Kingdom of GOD.

  2. Once again I/we are graced with comments from Thinking Friend Glenn Hinson:

    "I’m in basic agreement, Leroy, but I think the kingdom is God’s mysterious Presence. You know Jesus’ similes—like a grain of mustard seed, like yeast in a lump of dough, like a seed growing secretly, like a thief in the night. Our task is to get people to recognize that Presence and live it out. I don’t think that would be represented in a particular societal pattern, but we strive to create the best form we can."

    1. Thanks for your comments, Dr. Hinson. I certainly agree that "the kingdom is God's mysterious Presence" that was variously described and explained by Jesus' similes (and parables) in ways many people didn't/don't understand. But I don't think that that in any way contradicts what I wrote about the KoG.

      There is a problem, though, (and perhaps this is your point) when the KoG is linked too directly to specific organizations and institutions, religious or especially political.

    2. Dr. Hinson in a later email message said,

      "I think we are in basic agreement, Leroy.

      "I have trouble connecting the kingdom of God with what I’ve seen in Christian history or see today. Rauschenbusch was too optimistic on that score."

    3. Yes, it is a mistake, I think, to identify any church group or especially any political organization/ activity directly with the KoG.

      And I agree with what you said about Rauschenbusch. One of my criticisms of liberal theology/theologians in my book "The Limits of Liberalism" was their tendency to be overly optimistic.

  3. Although with some variance, this seems to be a good construct of viewing God's Kingdom. He has been since the beginning and has not changed.

  4. Thinking Friend Michael Olmsted in south Missouri sent these helpful comments about the KoG (as I often write for the Kingdom of God).

    "We pray, I suspect without paying attention to the words, 'Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done one earth as it is in heaven.' It is, in these extremely troubling days for America, a necessary prayer as we hear so much brutal language about racial divisions, self-serving political attitudes, and hatred shaping our national conversations. The example of God's love in Christ must find expression in our words and actions or we create hell on earth!

    "God's kingdom has never been golden streets for the winners, but peace, love, and joy in the hearts of people!"

    1. Thanks, Michael, for your comments.

      I would like to add, though, that God's kingdom should be able to be seen (at least in part) on the streets and roads of our cities and countrysides, not just in the hearts of people.

      (I do refer to the Lord's Prayer in the fifth chapter of TTT, which I am afraid not many people will take the time to read, although I made no mention of it in the blog article.)

    2. At the conclusion of a subsequent email, Thinking Friend Michael wrote,

      "We are 'kingdom' people now and forever, not in the big payoff at the end."

      My one word response: Exactly!

  5. Michael Olmstead elegantly got to my subject before I did, so I will try subject two. I think 'kingdom' is a fine word to use for the Kingdom of God as it has a history of use in biology back to Carl Linnaeus in 1735, when he gave the world the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom. In this metaphorical sense the word will work just fine for theological purposes. Let us focus on the meaning of the Kingdom of God, and not get hung up on the terminology. For anyone interested in more on the biological use of the term 'kingdom' see this link:

    1. Thanks, Craig, for the helpful suggestion for thinking of "kingdom" the way Linnaeus did. In that sense, a kingdom is not headed by a (male) king with power. But I am afraid that most people, like me up until this point, don't usually think of kingdom in that way.

  6. A local Thinking Friend wrote (in the midst of a much longer email message):

    "From what I can perceive, He [God] is far more interested in His entire creation, than just to have some human subjects for a future Kingdom."

    This makes two important statements: one, which I tried to emphasize, is that the KoG is present as well as future; the other, which I did not mention, is that the KoG is probably more than just a "kingdom" of human beings.

  7. Thinking Friend Truett Baker in Arizona writes,

    "Thanks for another thought-provoking blog. I have a great deal of respect for anyone who takes on trying to explain the K of G.

    "I just finished reading Georgia Harkness's 'Understanding the Kingdom of God.' Her thinking is much on the same order as 'Thirty Things....' She makes a strong case for the existential application within the apocalyptic and prophetic elements. It is so simple, that it is complicated. That is one of the many paradoxes in the study.

    "Thanks again."

  8. I am late posting here this email message I received three days ago from local Thinking Friend Marilyn Peot:

    "What a relevant topic!

    "I, as a Catholic Sister, am in both a liminal and exciting time! My choice of life is in the throes of transformation...and moving, though slowly, into understanding and celebrating the interface of science and spirituality.

    Many of us are finding Diarmuid O'Murchu's words captivating and, since he is both writing books on science and spirituality, he has brought together 'something new' that envisions the future of Religious Life.

    "His new word for 'kingdom,' new creation, God's realm is: Companionship of Empowerment. His vision encompasses the interface of science and spirituality and the importance of forming community with all peoples...our human communities are to come together with the faith that we are empowered by the Divine. He is surely exposing us to the Beloved Community, wouldn't you say?

    "I feel fortunate to be in this life I have chosen at a time when we can expect to continue moving through our 'passion'--while there is the deep hope there is a resurrection awaiting us! No wonder we say to one another: Happy Easter!"

    1. Thanks for your substantial comments, Marilyn--and thanks for introducing Diarmuid O'Murchu. I remember seeing that name and reading something by him--but not a whole book. He has written many books, I find, and he seems to be someone that I ought to read more of.

  9. Not so people have read the whole fifth chapter of TTT (available at, but Thinking Friend Graham Hales in Mississippi (apparently) did and left this comment at the end:

    "Someone has said, correctly I think, that the Christian lives between the no longer and the not yet. The kingdom is present now in the acts of Christians in love toward all others and is a hope calling us to ever look to God’s final end of history."

    Thanks for reading and posting your comment, Graham.