Ministry in the Upside-Down Kingdom
In The Upside-Down Kingdom, Donald B. Kraybill explores the Kingdom theme in the Gospels, particularly Luke. The Kingdom Jesus proclaims and brings subverts the current power structures (21). During the temptation scene, the devil tempted Jesus with earthly, political power, but Jesus rejected the right-side-up kingdoms of this world for the Kingdom of God (35, 51). I believe the Kingdom has several implications for ministry. (1) Preaching the Kingdom requires a prophetic questioning of the way the world is. We are privileged to show how the Kingdom of God differs from the way things currently are. (2) A component of pastoral care will be helping our congregants discern how to live in submission to the Kingdom. How do we use our money, our time, our rights as citizens? (3) In evangelism, we don’t seek out a strategy which gives us more cultural power but speaks the Gospel to those who currently feel powerless. Any preaching of the Gospel to the powerful includes highlighting the required humility of repentance and the demands of the Kingdom. (4) In the midst of all our church programs, we must have plenty of room for showing the love and mercy of Jesus to those currently in need. The Church can give its resources to building up our community and meeting the real, material needs of our neighbors. (5) We must be aware of the temptation to accept the political status quo. American political theology has a long, uneasy legacy of merely accepting and legitimizing the current political structures. Confusing faith with political party erodes our faith and our politics, a painful reality of our current political climate. The Church has too often combined politics and faith in a way which allows Christians to excuse themselves from loving the least of these. As pastors, we must resist this temptation, and help our congregants resist this same temptation by continually preaching the upside-down Kingdom of the Gospels.