The Call to Kingdom Responsibility
Clashing Kingdom Beliefs
This series has pressed us on our need for a new attitude of responsibility ahead of the changing kingdom appearance at hand. We’ve looked at various natural and scriptural parallels that prophetically speak to us of this.
But what we haven’t seen yet is how our beliefs about the kingdom affect our sense of responsibility toward this transition. Conflicting partial views of the kingdom cripple our ability as a body to grow into this sense of practical kingdom responsibility. These views fall into two broad polarized beliefs:
“Kingdom Not” vs. “Kingdom Now”
One belief removes our sense of responsibility to prepare for the manifest kingdom because it sees it as something to happen of itself quite apart from our attention to it. It sees the “coming kingdom” detached from the present spiritual issues of salvation on which we must focus, a salvation having little implication for our relationship to earthly systems. We’ll call this belief set “Kingdom Not.”
The other belief preempts any preparatory sense of responsibility because it defines the manifest kingdom by our ability to make dents in present world systems with the limited spiritual power now available to us. It disavows any future concept of “kingdom come” to which salvation points, or therefore for which we must prepare. This belief set already has a name: “Kingdom Now.”
Both belief sets have some truth essential to our outlook on the kingdom. But alone, each stifles development of our responsibility toward what is to come, leaving us enslaved to the present order.
- Imperfections Exposed
Each kingdom “camp” can well note flaws in the world view of the other. “Kingdom Nows” charge “Kingdom Nots” with shirking their duty to bring the gospel to the front lines of society and failing to impact the culture where it is. They say God’s kingdom should be changing world systems, not just hearts.
Meanwhile “Kingdom Nots” charge “Kingdom Nows” with divorcing the kingdom from the gospel of salvation, corrupting its spiritual nature for the sake of “relevance.” They say the kingdom isn’t designed to make of this world’s passing systems that which can never be made of them.
And you know what? Both charges are true!
But here’s the real issue: Outside the closed doors of this debate, mounting signatory world shakings are transpiring which have no respect for our debate and to which neither camp has any practical response.
Kingdom Nots, reading the signs of imminent societal collapse and knowing only spiritual principles of salvation are cowering in fear—paralyzed by alarmist prophecies of imminent destruction under the beast. Kingdom Nows meanwhile “whistle in the dark,” denying the clear signs of imminent collapse even as they watch the cultures they’ve supposedly “advanced for the kingdom” crumble before their very eyes!
Folks, if fear and denial are our only alternatives to these world shakings, then something is wrong. Don’t these pitiful responses have something to teach us about our views of the kingdom?
- Going Deeper
The fact that both kingdom beliefs don’t give us real solutions in the face of mounting events is enough to tell us that neither captures the sum truth about the kingdom. The events tell us—contrary to Kingdom Now—that the manifest kingdom is not here. But faith, hope and love tell us there must be far more to our involvement in its nearing arrival than the paralyzed fear-driven Kingdom Nots would have us believe.
What is missing?
The Lost Concept of “Harvest”
Where we struggle over the kingdom is in how to properly reconcile the divergent ideas of “spirit” and “flesh,” “future” and “present,” “invisible” and “visible,” “eternal” and “temporal.” We especially wrestle over properly relating “salvation” as an inward heart matter with “kingdom” as an external force affecting systems of operation.
The critical absent component from our discussion is the concept of “harvest.” The harvest motif lies at the heart of all the Lord’s teachings on the kingdom (later expounded by Paul and Revelation). We can’t properly understand the kingdom without it.
Jesus says the kingdom starts as a seed and ends as a harvested fruit. This means its first manifestation is of one essence, but its latter manifestation is of another. Its first essence is invisible, but its latter essence is visible. Its first essence is spiritual, but its latter essence is physical. And whereas it begins in the human heart, it’s finally expressed through perfected external systems and operations as exercised through fully redeemed (“physically harvested”) men.
The kingdom was first planted into the ground of the hearts of the Lord’s apostles as a seed whose essence is spiritual and invisible. But its end manifestation as a harvested product is not spiritual. It is fully, physically visible and demonstrated through perfected systems of operation (“rulership” or “dominion”) as exercised by glorified saints under the Headship of Christ.
The harvest concept reconciles the divergent ideas above by creating a developmental connection between them. The kingdom is not “either this” or “that,” but it is a “this” that becomes a “that.”
The “Growing Season”
The growing season is the period of time between planting and harvest. This time oversees the transformation from seed to ripened fruit—from first essence to latter essence. During the growing season, a plant morphs out of its hidden identity as a seed, but remains without identity as a manifestly ripened fruit. It’s something in between, without an identity clearly identified as “internal” or “external” (something like a teenager!).
As a harvest based reality, God’s kingdom in the earth also has a growing season. A growing season is a period of time between a point of planting and a point of harvest. Hence it is a dispensation.
During this season, being no longer just a hidden seed yet neither manifestedly harvested, the kingdom is the most difficult to define. And if we attempt to define it outside the harvest perspective, we are doomed to partial polarized paradigms (as in Kingdom Not and Kingdom Now) that do not truly reconcile the divergent ideas involving it.
So what time is it in the kingdom?
Answer: We are still in the growing season, but we are near the end of it. We are no longer just a seed where the inner issues of new birth and sanctification are all God is talking about. The effects of our salvation have become increasingly externalized through dramatic releases of anointing over the last 200 years. Those releases have resulted in certain impacts (“dents”) on world systems and cultures. They are not departures from the true faith. (The Kingdom Nows have it right on this.)
BUT, just because God’s kingdom has begun to more visibly impact cultures and systems in some ways does not mean that A) He has redefined the kingdom other than or away from its seed identity in the issues of salvation, B) His kingdom is intended to “convert” fleshly world systems into “spiritual” ones, or C) His kingdom is “here” in its fullness of meaning, manifestation, ripeness, etc. (The NOTS have it on this one).
What do the “Dents” Mean?
So all right, then. If these anointed impacts on temporal world systems and cultures are indeed God’s kingdom voice at work, but the cultures are yet teetering on their own verge of collapse, then what do these anointed impacts signify?
The best answer is to think of the present kingdom “dents” on society as a baby “kicking” inside the womb of his mother. Yes, that’s right. You are seeing the kicks of the Revelation 12 baby—a baby who is entirely separate from his mother, yet who is almost fully formed and ready to emerge as the manifest kingdom of God in the flesh! (Note: In our illustration, the mother is the world, not the church.)
- A Tale of Two Midwives
Here is where the inadequacy of partial kingdom paradigms really emerges. Picture two midwives at the birth of this baby. The first is called Kingdom Now. Kingdom Now is really keenly aware of all this “fetus kicking.” She sees the power life burgeoning within the mother. Her only problem is she sees these punches through the skin of the womb and exclaims,
“Look at that Womb! Look at it jump! The Womb must be the baby! The Womb is the Kingdom! The Kingdom is Here, everybody! Send out the announcements! There is no future! What do you mean ‘wait’ for the baby to be born and the kingdom to come? Can’t you see all those kicks? What more do you want to see? Sanctify that womb, people! Pour oil all over it. God’s counting on our generation to keep bloating this Womb until Jesus comes!”
Meanwhile, midwife Kingdom Not comes into the room and sees all this noise. All she has ever known is that the baby is invisible. Can’t be seen by nobody no how. The mother’s womb gets bigger by the day, but all she knows is the true baby is invisible. The growing womb means nothing to her. Every day she just repeats to herself “The baby is invisible. There is no baby here now.” Now the kicking starts, the mother starts writhing in terror and Kingdom Not doesn’t know what to think. She has never seen a womb kick before or a mother in such desperate conditions!
“What’s going on here, people? I don’t see no baby. There is no baby here. I don’t know what all this kicking is about. It’s got to be demons or a false move or something like that. You can tell. Look at all those other people worshipping the womb. I don’t know, that womb looks like it’s about to burst, but there’s no baby here! Look at the mother. She’s weirding out. I think she’s going to bite me! Get out of here! Run for your lives before some ungodly who-knows-what befalls us all!!
This story may sound foolish! But it makes the point. It gives us another way to see where the call to true kingdom responsibility comes in. We’re being called to become responsible midwives! Correct, the baby is NOT here. BUT, the baby IS making dents because he’s about to be born. And God is calling us NOW to PREPARE for the BIRTH of His manifest kingdom baby.
The kingdom is about to be born, and there are midwives needed in this never-before-seen birth—harvest laborers on whom is the call for an equally never-before-seen responsibility for the governing, managing and administrating of never-before-revealed divine systems in the earth. This responsibility calls for a greater knowing of God beyond the seed issues of salvation, sanctification and anointing as we have known them.
The harvest before us sees the imminent collapse and replacement of the systems of this world with the manifest kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. That’s why these systems are collapsing at all. They are collapsing as a womb that gives birth. They are not collapsing because our kingdom’s influence has failed, but because it has succeeded!
We should therefore be rejoicing! We should not be fearing or running for our lives. Neither should we be trying to prop up these systems in the name of advancing the kingdom now. The real “kingdom now’ before us is the kingdom midwife responsibility to prepare for imminent birth in the flesh of the kingdom we have awaited for two millenniums.
[ Part V ]
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page updated January 26, 2017