It is often the case that Christians who understand the kingdom of God only in a pure futuristic dimension tend to focus on the spiritual aspect of winning souls and living a holy life while neglecting the present dimension of physical aspect namely hunger for justice and peace, care for the orphanage, the poor, and the widows, the environment et cetera. The inverse is often the case for Christians who understand the kingdom of God only in a pure present dimension.
A sound understanding is that that holds the present and future dimension, both the physical and spiritual aspect of the kingdom of God just as the early church. Christians holding sound understanding of the kingdom of God understands what W. F. Arndt contended:
What is offered to those that accept Jesus the Savior and King and become citizens in that blessed realm of which He is the Ruler is not wealth, not power, not health, at least not directly. With the forgiveness of sins they have received rest for their souls, a joyful outlook upon the future, the assurance of heavenly bliss, and with this righteousness all other things will be added unto them (Matt 6:33). (Arndt 1950: 20)
They concur both that, as R. T. France argued, the kingdom of God is about God being King and Christians entering it, means accepting and bowing down before God as king (France 2005: n.p.) and, as Wright argued, “[t]he new creation will be put into the care of, the wise, healing stewardship of those who have been ‘renewed according to the image of the creator’”( Wright 2006: 219)
A sound understanding of the kingdom of God calls Christians “to live by the life of heaven even while on earth”, as we become a “living word in the world around us”(2006: 187). Living now, as Scot McKnight correctly contended, in light of the future. McKnight expounded,
A Christian is one who follows Jesus by devoting his or her One.Life to the kingdom of God, fired by Jesus’ own imagination, to a life of loving God and loving others, and to a society shaped by justice, especially for those who have been marginalized, to peace, and to a life devoted to acquiring wisdom in the context of a local church. This life can only be discovered by being empowered by God’s Spirit (McKnight 2010: 105).
A sound understanding of the kingdom of God calls Christians to become more and more like their King now. To be holy as their King is holy. To forgiving as their King forgave. To love as their King loved. To heal as their king healed. All this is possible through the work of the Holy Spirit only.
It is important for Christians to hold both understanding of the kingdom of God because that understanding will raise a community of Christians who are equally concerned with the present need and are equally and eagerly awaiting and preparing for the future, the day to which all, in heaven, on earth and under earth, will bow down to the King of kings, Jesus who is Christ and Lord over all.
Arndt, W. F.(1950) ‘The New Testament Teaching on the Kingdom of God’, Concordia Theological Monthly, 21/1:8–29.
Wright, N. T. (2006) Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. HaperCollins e- books.
France, R. T ( 2005) ‘Kingdom of God’ in Vanhoozer, K. J., Bartholomew, C. G., Treier, D. J., & Wright, N. T. (Eds.) .Dictionary for theological interpretation of the Bible. London: SPCK.
McKnight, Scot (2010) One Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan