I recently read Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church by Scot McKnight, which definitely stretched my thinking in a lot of ways about the kingdom of God.
Here are some things I liked or was challenged with:
1. There is no good for the common good until humans surrender to King Jesus. I love the way McKnight put this because so many in my generation want to do the common good and associate the common good with being human, spiritual, doing “kingdom work” and yet, we separate it from the gospel and under Jesus. We also make it sound like Jesus doesn’t care about the common good, or we make it sound like the church doesn’t care about the common good. I loved the connection of the common good to the gospel under King Jesus.
2. The story of redemption is not C-F-R-C. Instead, it is A-B-A. I think this pushed me the most and will push the thinking of most leaders the most too.
Here’s what McKnight had to say about this:
Plan A has four characteristics: God alone is King. Humans, from Adam and Eve to Abraham, are to rule under God. Humans usurp God’s rule. God forgives the usurpers and forms a covenant with Abraham.
So there are six elements in Plan B: God alone is (still) King. Israel is to rule God’s created world under God. Israel wants to usurp God’s rule. God accommodates Israel by granting it a human king. The story of the Old Testament becomes the story of David. God continues to forgive Israel of its sins through the temple system of sacrifice, purity, and forgiveness. A human king for Israel is Plan B in God’s eyes.
Here, then, is Plan A Revised: in Jesus, who is called Messiah (which means king), who is also called Son of God (which also means king), God establishes his rule over Israel one more time as under Plan A. Here are the major elements: God alone is King. God is now ruling in King Jesus. Israel and the church live under the rule of King Jesus. Forgiveness is granted through King Jesus, the Savior. This rule of Jesus will be complete in the final kingdom.
3. Kingdom mission is church mission. This carries closely to the first point, but I loved how McKnight connected kingdom work and church mission. They go hand in hand and are seeking to accomplish the same thing. Loved this.
4. King Jesus. This may seem obvious depending on your church background, but I appreciate the emphasis that McKnight places on Jesus as King. My church background seems to focus on Jesus as Savior and Redeemer, which He is and leave the King part until the end of the world. Yet, Jesus is King, now and forever.
5. Understanding the kingdom in the first century context. I’ll be honest, until I read what McKnight had to say about what a first century Jew would’ve thought of when Jesus talked about the kingdom of God, I hadn’t really thought about it. Yet, this has to influence how we think about the kingdom of God. He said, “’kingdom’ in the Old Testament refers to both realm and governing (or ruling), sometimes emphasizing one and sometimes emphasizing the other, but always having a sense of both.” He goes on to talk about how it involves land, people, laws, etc. “A people governed by a king”—this is how the Old Testament uses the term “kingdom.” This context is important about how we think about the kingdom of God today in our world, as well as eternity.
While I haven’t gotten into the theology of the kingdom of God, how much of it is now and how much of it is in eternity, but McKnight handles that well and this blog post is not a sufficient place to unpack that. I found this book challenging, although I didn’t agree with all of it, it was definitely a good read.