Just a few more thoughts on the transformational nature of the Kingdom of God… for now. By “the Kingdom of God,” the Bible means the right and authority of God to exercise His power and sovereignty in each human life and in the world at large. For now, although God is the sovereign power in the universe, He has chosen to give humans the freedom to choose whether they will live under His authority, as citizens of His Kingdom. When Kingdom citizens choose to come together in community and encourage one another in Kingdom living, a local church exists. The church is the agent of the Kingdom of God in the world.
While the New Testament does not contain a constitution or a set of bylaws for the way Kingdom citizens should live, it is not difficult to surmise such a pattern for behavior. Kingdom citizens should emulate the character of the King. The cultivation and development of Christlike character traits is called spiritual formation, and it is the most important work in which the church can be involved. It includes public worship, personal devotion, and self-sacrificing service. And it takes a church, the community of the King, to be the context, the fertile environment, in which spiritual formation can flourish.
The truth about the Kingdom of God can resolve all manner of church conflicts—simply follow the course that most consistently models the values of the Kingdom and the character of the King. It can provide guidance in political issues and matters of public policy—support the candidates and policies which are most likely to produce a society which reflects Kingdom values.
It was the truth about the comprehensive nature of the Kingdom of God which ultimately drew me to the liturgical tradition which I now embrace in Anglicanism. Many of my friends in the free church tradition, where I lived and worked for thirty-five years, feel uncomfortable with what they perceive as “pomp and pageantry” in some forms and expressions of liturgical worship. For me, those outward expressions—the bowing, the kneeling, the incense—all remind me that I serve the King of Kings, and one day I will have opportunity to acknowledge His very presence in similar acts of honor and worship. Until then, they bring a little of heaven to earth, and instill a level of reverence in public worship which never fails to lift my spirit and transport me spiritually into the presence of the King.