I’ve always thought of God’s kingdom like this:
One circle represents the world we live in. It includes the physical, cultural, and spiritual realities of our existence. The other circle represents the world God lives in, the Kingdom of God. It has little or nothing to with physical realities. It is more a way of being and living in relation to God’s purpose. It is where God’s will is done.
As you can see in the drawing, the circles are intersecting. If I could make moving images, I would demonstrate the circle we live in remaining stationary while the circle representing the Kingdom of God is moving toward it. This demonstrates God’s Kingdom coming into our world little by little. Any space the circles overlap represents God’s will replacing our own. Eventually, at the end of time, God’s Kingdom completely overlaps our circle and God’s will is done everywhere.
I’ve learned a problem with this way of seeing it. The Kingdom of God is limited to particular areas of our world. As it moves in and crosses over the circle, it still remains separate. Our world and God’s will are still isolated from the other.
So, I’m learning a new way to understand God’s Kingdom coming into our world, and it looks like this:
The box represents our world. The four sides create a boundary to our physical, cultural, and spiritual realities. Our world is everything inside the box. Everything outside the represents the kingdom of God. All the space surrounding the box, all four sides, is where God’s will is done.
The reason you don’t see a shape or object representing the Kingdom of God is because it can’t be contained. It’s like a vapor or gas that takes up all the available space beyond the borders of the box.
As a vapor or gas, the kingdom of God enters our world from all sides and angles. It presses in on every side and crosses over every inch of the border. As the gas crosses into our space, it spreads all over and to every corner. It starts out faint. In all areas of the box, it’s possible to sense the kingdom of God is present. More and more of the gas will cross into the box until eventually, it will become so dense that it will be only thing visible and noticeable. The kingdom of God will replace the kingdoms of our world.
With this way of seeing it, the Kingdom of God coming into our world isn’t limited to a particular space. It’s everywhere all at once. Wherever you are in our world, it will be. It’s mixed into world and impossible to separate. Our word and God’s kingdom are no longer isolated. They are cohabitating. God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven, and no one has a monopoly on it.
Here’s why any of this matters to me.
It’s easy for Christians, for me, to isolate ourselves from the rest of world. It’s easy to go to church, go to life-group or Sunday School, go to special church events, and hang out with mostly Christian friends. When we do, we create our own little world within our bigger world. Much like the shared space in the first diagram.
In our enclaves, we become like monks living in a monastery. We cut off nearly all communication outside our little world. We expect to experience the Kingdom of God in our separate spaces, but not anywhere else. It’s limited to a particular space.
I’m learning God’s kingdom isn’t limited to any particular. It’s everywhere. It’s all mixed up in our world. It crosses over into every space. I can’t monopolize it. I can’t control it. I can’t contain it.
God wants us to get out and experience it. In our workplace. In our neighborhoods. In our schools. In our ghettos. In the poor. In other cultures. In other languages. In the other gender. In the old and the young.
Are we willing to go there?
Where you experienced the Kingdom of God? What does it look like to you?