Eight Ways the Kingdom of God Shaped The Navigators
Through the decades, Navigator leaders have pursued a deeper understanding of what the Scriptures say about the kingdom of God. During the process of drawing out what became The “Core” (Calling, Values, Vision), we were absorbing the paramount significance of the kingdom, in at least eight ways. These are briefly discussed below. The kingdom, as described in the Bible, is central to Navigator identity.
Elevates and amplifies the Gospel. Too often, we have reduced our message to a single and basic need, the need for forgiveness. But life is more than being forgiven and grace is greater than guilt. There is a marvelous spaciousness. “Your eyes will see the King in His beauty and view a land that stretches afar” (Isaiah 33:17).
Orients us to the lordship of Christ in every area of life: commerce, the arts, education, family, leisure, politics. The future is breaking into the present.
Jesus announced the presence of the kingdom of God. The word was often on his lips. At the end, he accepted the title King. He clearly intended that everyone know that the rule of God was comprehensive, established over body as well as soul, over society as well as individuals, in our external behavior as well as our internal disposition, over cities and nations as well as homes and churches.
Salvation is thus not merely a matter of personal piety, not an escape from the created order, but rather the restoration and regeneration and reconstitution of the cosmos. Redemption includes the recovery of the creational imperatives, alignment to the responsibilities of our cultural mandate.
Opens up the frontiers. We do not carry a Gospel of the church, but of the kingdom. Our concern is not to advance what is often called Christendom or to build the institutional Church. We seek allegiance not to Christianity, but to Christ our king. Thus, there is space, in such a Gospel, for Muslim or Hindu believers to follow Jesus and remain in their contexts, without being extracted. Institutionalism and traditionalism cannot stand against the kingdom.
Deepens our experience of salvation. The Gospel of the kingdom reminds us insistently that we offer hope, in Jesus, to the broken and the blind and the vulnerable and the marginalized, to human beings and to societies and to all of creation. Salvation is spiritual, physical, social, relational, political. It is the Trinitarian gift. Eugene Peterson said:
The root meaning in Hebrew of ‘salvation’ is to be broad, to become spacious, to enlarge. It carries the sense of deliverance from an existence that has become compressed, confined, and cramped. Salvation is the plot of history . . . Salvation is God’s determination to rescue his creation; it is his activity in recovering the world. It is personal and impersonal, it deals with souls and cities, it touches sin and sickness. There is a reckless indiscriminateness about salvation.
Curbs our pride. My kingdom is the arena in which I have control. God’s kingdom is the arena in which he has control. Jesus, in Matthew 28, told us that He had been given control over everything. So, he has a claim on the totality of our lives. When we forget this, we easily slip into idolatry. E. Stanley Jones writes:
‘Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ (Acts 1:6) . . . Trying to jam a universal order into a nationalistic mold! They didn’t reject the kingdom, they reduced it! . . . We too have reduced it. We have made it innocuous by reducing it to ecclesiasticism, the Church is the kingdom; denominationalism, the particular denomination is the kingdom; the nation is the kingdom . . .
Offers righteousness and justice to a disordered and twisted world.
The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice (Psalm 9:7-8).
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you (Psalm 89:14).
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth (Psalm 96: 10-13).
Here is a judgment that produces joy. How can this be? This judge is righteous and just. We can safely entrust ourselves to his wisdom and mercy. Furthermore, and most importantly, God’s justice has been satisfied for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. This is indeed good news.
Promises peace to the nations. Jesus, as Isaiah tells us, is the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6). The peace or shalom of the kingdom is far more than the absence of war. Shalom comes when people are in harmony and the community of relationships is complete. When we experience shalom, we are spiritually and physically healthy, we are whole, we are rightly related to God, and we are living according to his designs.
Most of all, King Jesus is our peace. As Paul tells the Ephesians, he has destroyed the barrier and broken down the dividing wall of hostility, bringing reconciliation through the Cross.
The New Testament theme of peace ties the kingdom directly to Jesus Christ. To know Jesus is to be in the kingdom. At Jesus’ birth the angels announced, ‘Peace on earth,’ as the meaning of Jesus’ coming (Luke 2:14). Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6); like Melchizedek, He is King of Peace (Hebrews 7:2). God reigns through Jesus Christ, and the meaning of that reign is peace (Howard Snyder).
So, the Gospel of the kingdom speaks to us of the healing of nations, of the end of tribal rivalries and nationalistic fervor and political hostilities, of embrace instead of exclusion. The only hope for the kingdoms of this world is that they be peopled with men and women who live out the Gospel of Jesus and his kingdom. King Jesus is Lord of history.
Shapes how we pray. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Lesslie Newbigin, lecturing at Cambridge University, called us to think of these words from the Lord’s Prayer, declaring that, “Every concept of the kingdom has to be continuously tested in the light of the revelation of the kingdom given uniquely and once and for all in the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.” To pray this prayer protects us, because, “We are far too easily consumed with contemporary agendas that are culturally conditioned and culturally situated.”
By Donald McGilchrist