Kingdom Theology

Forward by Jason Clark

 

 

 

 

I was honored to write the forward for Dubb Alexander, Ryan Pena, Eunike Jonathan & Tony Robinson’s new book, The Kingdom Available Now!

FORWARD

My son has a framed work of art hanging on his bedroom wall that once graced the wall of my childhood bedroom. It is a colored pencil drawing of a castle with spires and battlements, a fortified tower, arrow slits, a drawbridge, a corresponding moat, and gate.

It also includes a soldier on guard duty standing tall, uniformed in royal blue trousers, scarlet red tunic, and a beefeater English bearskin hat. His sword is unsheathed and held up in a salute—as if to let us know he maintains vigilant watch, eyes always scanning for signs of an enemy, ready to respond to any threat.

The soldier is disciplined, dedicated— he is steadfast in his loyalty to the King and Kingdom. He would die for the King.

How do I know? What makes me such an expert regarding this work of art?

I’m the artist.

Inspired by the castle mural painted on my Covenant Church third-grade classroom wall, I drew that solitary soldier and his kingdom. In my nine-year-old scrawl, above my castle, I wrote the phrase, “The Kingdom God has prepared for us far exceeds any imagination.”

That phrase was inspired by 1 Cor 2:9: “…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Yeah, I grew up in the Church and thus, I’ve been fascinated by the King and His Kingdom since before I can remember. The idea of Kings and Kingdoms permeated everything I knew about God, Scripture, and the way we Christians navigate all things. But the Kingdom I understood was a dichotomy— “a division into two parts…”

The awe-inspired nine-year-old who drew that castle grew up in a loving home and knew a kind and loving King with a beautiful Kingdom that looked like family.

But that kid was also raised in the Church’s dizzying obsession with good and evil and often compromised by a separation-based atonement theory. That innocent nine-year-old grew up in the Western Evangelical obsession with dominion by way of domination, sovereignty by way of control, justice by way of violent retribution, and power by way of hierarchies of exclusion.

While I knew the other-centered love of Jesus, I had to traverse the Church’s literal application of violent Old Testament delusions. The Kingdom was often presented as a militarized, politicized war machine leveraged by religious zealots and fork-tongued grifters for the purpose of control and exclusion.

Thus, as I entered adulthood, I began to believe that God’s beautiful Kingdom was a prepared future heaven that could only be experienced if I survived the brutality of this present age.

Then, in my thirties, thanks to pioneers in the goodness of God, I began to refocus my Kingdom definitions around what Jesus had to say about it.

Jesus talked about the Kingdom all the time. But never with a sword in His hand and always in the language of Greater Love and the context of family. Not once did Jesus call God, “King,” He always called Him, “Dad.”

“When you pray, say Father…” He instructed us in Luke 11:2, and he continued in Matthew 6:10. Dad, “Your Kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven.”

And boy did I pray—my nine-year-old earnest faith reignited in my thirty-something heart. I joined all creation in the age-old question; the one we’ve been asking since the lie of separation first entered the mind of Adam.

“Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, ‘When will the kingdom of God come?’

Jesus answered, ‘God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.’” (Luke 17:20-21)

Remember that castle-inspiring verse in Corinthians? “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” —the very next verse reads, But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit…” (See 1 Cor 2:9-10)

It seems that Jesus believed the Kingdom wasn’t a future heaven but a present revelation of the family relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit established on earth through us.

Jesus reframed the Kingdom in the relational context of Family. You could say it this way, if it isn’t family, it isn’t the Kingdom Jesus revealed.

As my friends Dubb Alexander, Ryan Pena, Eunike Jonathan, and Tony Robinson have written, “The Kingdom is a Royal Family who co-reigns upon the Earth… The heart of God in creating humanity is for family. His desire in the act of creation was not to expand His army, but to give love through union and connection with Himself…”

They continue, “We were created for connection, oneness, and union with The Trinity. This is the first aspect of The Kingdom we need to see. The Kingdom is a family, and Father’s heart is to expand that family.”

And finally, “The Kingdom, most simplistically put, is ‘The extension of the heart and authority of God, from Heaven to Earth, through humanity….it is powered by love, revealing identity and purpose, liberating people to be authentic and unifying humanity with honor.”

This book provides clarity and liberty to discover the what, where, when, how, and why of the Kingdom within us. What is the Kingdom? What is it like? What must it become? When and where is the Kingdom?

This manuscript is beautifully practical—no highbrow hoops to jump through or self-indulgent theological speak, this is a straightforward, thorough, grace-inspired discovery of how to live, move, and have our being in the Family as ambassadors of our Father’s Kingdom. My friends have written an invitation into relational trust.

You know, my Father loves that castle I drew when I was nine. He knew I saw myself in that soldier with the sharp military uniform and shiny sword; recognized my earnest salute—His eyes alive with laughter as I presented my vigilant watch.

He also knew my warrior interpretation of His Kingdom would be transformed by His indwelling Spirit. He knew there would be fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends like those who wrote this book, who would come alongside me to re-present His Kingdom.

If I were to pick up the colored pencils today and let my imagination run wild, if I were to set about creating a work of art that represented the Kingdom, and if I were to hang that image on my wall, you most likely would see a family.

And I believe if you looked closely, you would see yourself in it.

I am grateful for what my friends have written. It’s their work of art—an invitation to discover that The Kingdom God has prepared for us far exceeds any imagination. And “God has revealed it to us by the Spirit…”

Jason Clark—Author of Leaving and Finding Jesus and host of Rethinking God with Tacos
www.afamilystory.org

 

To purchase the book, CLICK HERE

Jason Clark is a relational theologian — a storyteller who writes to reveal the transforming kindness of the love of God. He has authored several books, including, Leaving and Finding Jesus, & Prone to Love. He is the lead communicator at  A Family Story and co-host of Rethinking God with Tacos PODCAST. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their four children, Madeleine and Joseph, Ethan, and Eva.

1 Comment

  1. Scott M Coleman

    This Forward is worth the price of the book. Wow! Jason Clark. Magnificently written. What a word smith to explain how God’s Kingdom is so wonderful and different than all we have imagined it to be and soooooo different than what is being shouted in the political theaters. Read and enjoy…

    Reply

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