The Kingdom of God Here-and-Now
In His earthly ministry, Jesus initiated the Kingdom of God breaking into the world (Mark 1:15; Mat. 6:10), particularly through His death and resurrection (Wright 113; Hays 75). His miracles provided glimpses of the New Creation, healing what was broken in the material creation and foreshadowing its future restoration (Luke 4:31-41; 2 Cor. 5:16-21; Hays 82). Presently, He rules over all (Col. 1:15-20), yet His Kingdom is not fully realized in the present age. Until then, the Kingdom is primarily seen in God’s people, not in displays of power, but in the community’s suffering together and showing the self-giving love Christ has shown to them (Mat. 6:12), particularly towards those marginalized by society (Luke 6:20-23; Hays 122-125). The community is formed and shaped when the Word of Christ's self-giving love to them is proclaimed, when they are joined to Him in baptism, and when they share in His body and blood in the Eucharist (1 Cor. 11:23-26). As they are shaped by the Kingdom of God, the Church learns to live in accord with it, practicing the full human life it is being formed into. Each member of the body is gifted by the Holy Spirit to build up the body, serve it, encourage it, and strengthen it (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:9-16). As Christians obey and experience the grace of God by the Holy Spirit, they are shaped to live the virtues of the Kingdom in this present age (Mat. 5-7; Eph. 4:25-32). Those who unrepentingly do not live in accord with Kingdom virtues are excluded from the sacrament for a time and, instead become part of the Church’s mission, to hear again the call of the Gospel and have an opportunity to repent (1 Cor. 11:27-34; Mat. 18:15-20; Hays 101-104). As the Church learns through practice and repetition to practice the virtues of the Kingdom, the Kingdom of God is seen in the midst of this present age.
Hays, Richard B. The Moral Vision of the New Testament. New York, NY: HarperOne, 1996.
Wright, N.T. After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. New York: HarperOne, 2010.