A theology of God’s kingdom

By REV. LUNA L. DINGAYAN
www.nordis.net

“May your kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  – Matthew 6:10

Search for New Theological Models

The word kingdom is one of the Biblical metaphors used by the Gospel writers to capture the essence of God’s reign.  In their attempts to understand the meaning of God’s realm, the Biblical writers made use of the prevailing political systems to describe it.  Their preference for the word kingdom instead of empire might have something to do with Israel’s historical experiences.

The Davidic Kingdom, which was believed to be a reflection of God’s Kingdom, had certainly brought glory and honor to the Jewish race; whereas the world’s empires had only brought destruction, sufferings, and death to the Jewish people.  It may even be safe to say that the kingdom would be the opposite of the empire.  The restoration of the Davidic Kingdom would mean the destruction of the Roman Empire.  The revolutionary Zealots, for instance, could not think of God’s Kingdom established on earth while the Roman Empire was in power.  For them, the Roman Empire must be destroyed or driven out of Palestine in order for God’s Kingdom to be realized.

Some contemporary theologians are now beginning to see the need to discover new theological models that would represent in a more relevant and meaningful way Biblical or religious metaphors.  One of these models is the use of the word Kin-dom instead of the traditional word Kingdom.

Kin-dom of God as Theological Model

Using the word kin-dom instead of kingdom is an attempt to discover a more inclusive, relevant, and meaningful theological model of understanding the reality of God’s reign.  The word kin literally means of the same kind or nature; dom refers to domain or reign.  Thus, the kin-dom of God means the reign or domain of God.  To pray, “May your Kin-dom come” is to pray that God reigns over us; that we should have a closer relationship with God.  It is not that we are to be gods and goddesses ourselves, but rather that our ways should be closer to God’s ways.  In other words, God’s very nature as love should permeate our lives, our relationships, and our world.

The word kin-dom basically implies kinship or relationship, which is also the same essential meaning of the word kingdom.  Whenever the Bible talks about the Kingdom of God, it would always describe the kind of relationship wherein God’s love, justice and peace prevail.  Hence, the kin-dom model captures the essential meaning of the kingdom metaphor in the Bible.  Under God’s reign, we are all related.  We have kinship one with the other.

The phrase “Your kin-dom come” is the parallel of the phrase “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”   Hebrew parallelism, by the way, is a literary approach wherein something is said twice.  The second way of saying it repeats or amplifies or explains the first way.  Using it as a form of Hebrew parallelism, the Kin-dom of God, therefore, is a situation where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.  In short, to be in God’s Kin-dom is to do the will of God.

Nature of God’s Kin-dom

The nature of God’s Kin-dom is vividly described in the rest of the prayer Jesus taught to his disciples (cf. Mt.6:11-13).  This is significant especially in our efforts to discover God’s will in our specific life situations.  Reflecting on the prayer, we would say that God’s Kin-dom is where there is daily bread for everyone, where there is forgiveness of sins, and where there is deliverance from the Evil One.

Firstly, the Kin-dom of God is where there is daily bread for everyone.  Truly, God cares for our physical needs.  Jesus, in his ministry, healed the sick and fed the hungry.  Daily bread for everyone implies the need to live one day at a time.  As a matter of fact, the reality of too much-accumulated wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of the many is a result of worrying too much for the morrow.

Secondly, the Kin-dom of God is where there is forgiveness of sins.  The Greek word used in the Biblical text, which is translated as sins, is opheilema.  Perhaps, this is better translated as debts rather than sins.  It would mean failure to pay that which is due.  It is a failure in terms of duties and responsibilities.  In this sense, none could ever claim to have perfectly fulfilled one’s own duties and responsibilities to his or her fellow human beings, to God, and to the rest of God’s creation.  All of us have in one way or another failed in our duties and responsibilities as God’s co-workers and stewards.

And thirdly, the Kin-dom of God is where there is deliverance from evil.  In God’s Kin-dom, temptations by the Evil One remain a reality.  Perhaps, the temptations may even be greater.  For it is when we are strongest that we are most tempted.  But the good news is the assurance that in God’s Kin-dom such temptations are overcome.  Temptations may come in various forms, but as Apostle Paul says, “There is nothing is all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.8:38-39).

Globalization as Counter-sign

Now, our world today is seriously faced with the issue of globalization.  This is an attempt of international powers-that-be to establish economic hegemony in the whole world.  The reality of globalization is preventing the realization of God’s Kin-dom.  This is clearly explained in the statement on the globalization of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians.

The Statement says that globalization is a process of re-structuring and integrating economies of the world to liberal capitalism that resulted in the massive labor mobility and dislocation, displacement and suffering of peasants, fisher-folks, and indigenous peoples, irreversible destruction of eco-system, the commoditization of women and children and indigenous culture. Advance communication technology created a mono-culture of the uncritical mass of hyper-consumerists, individualists, robots, thereby losing the sense of inner family and community spirit.

The heart of globalization is profit and more profit through free-trade ideology dominated by transnational corporations, multinational enterprises, and global corporations, which are super-conglomerates, resulting in imperialist domination.  Globalization is death-dealing, not life-giving.

Reflecting on this world reality theologically, the Statement ended up denouncing the idolatry of worshipping a false god whose new name is globalization, whose high priests are the International Monetary Fund-World Bank and the World Trade Organization, whose temples are the shopping malls, and whose sacrifices are the poor.

Globalization, indeed, is God’s Kin-dom’s countersign.  It seeks to destroy our kinship with God, with one another, and with the rest of God’s creation.

Call to Prayer

There is a need for us, therefore, to continuously pray: “May your Kin-dom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”!  To pray this prayer is to recognize the fact that the full realization of God’s Kin-dom on earth as it is in heaven is ultimately in God’s hands.  This would make us truly humble and be constantly open to God’s leading in our collective efforts and struggles to bring about a society where there is daily bread to everyone, forgiveness of sins, and deliverance from the Evil One.   And may God empower and guide us in this missionary task. Amen.  #nordis.net

 

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