The Kingdom of God has come near
Jesus gave his disciples the order to proclaim the kingdom of God: ‘As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of Heaven has come near.”’ (Matthew 10:7)
Just as he did and as John the Baptist did, so they too were to proclaim emphatically the message to the people.
In recent years much research has been done on the nature of the kingdom of God. Various aspects have been highlighted, such as the soteriological, diaconal, social, political, charismatic, ecclesiological and eschatological dimensions with their current challenges for the Church.
But do we still hear the urgency in this call: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is at hand’? Jesus makes clear two things: 1) This kingdom of peace does not come through good intentions, strategies or political concepts, but is brought about by God alone. 2) Before the kingdom of God begins, there must first be judgement on the sin and the godlessness of humans. Since the kingdom of God is imminent people should repent and turn to God in order to participate in the future glory of this kingdom.
Although 2000 years have passed, this message has not lost its urgency. By the grace of God, people today can decide for the kingdom of God and find peace with God, believing that Christ carried God’s judgement on the sin of the world.
The kingdom of God is not yet complete. We are waiting for Christ’s return and the visible coming of his kingdom. That is why Christians are committed to the urgent proclamation of the kingdom and to its values: faith, hope, love.
Dr Klaus Bensel is secretary of the Fellowship of European Evangelical Theologians, pastor in Siegen (Germany), and teaches New Testament Studies at the Biblisch-Theologische Akademie Wiedenest and at the Staatsunabhängige Theologische Hochschule Basel, Switzerland.