What, exactly, is the Reign of God? Here’s what Jesus has to say about the Reign of God. I’ve paraphrased it for you below, or you can click here to read it for yourself in the Young’s Literal Translation:
The Reign of God is not a human system of order being run by human decision-makers. If it was, I would have allowed My disciples to defend Me from the leaders within that system who wanted to have Me crucified. In God’s Reign, God is the decision-maker Who doesn’t use fear tactics and force to accomplish His purposes. In this world, people who have popularity, wealth, or credentials are considered to the most important, but in the Reign of God, things are opposite. (Jesus brings a child into the middle of the group.) Take this child, for instance. You must be humble, like a child to enter into the Reign of God. In contrast, a rich person whose sense of security is in wealth will find it very difficult to enter in. But here’s what I can guarantee – whatever you lose for the sake of the Reign of God, it will be well worth your while, not only in this age, but also in the age to come. You’ll be generously compensated with spiritual riches, which are far better than any popularity, wealth, or credentials you once had.
The Reign of God is such good news that I talk about it with anyone who will listen. (Jesus tells his disciples something privately: Here’s the thing. At this time, God is only giving the understanding of His Reign to you. That’s why I speak in parables. Not everyone is meant to understand His Reign at once. Right now, I’ll tell them what they need to know most, that is…) the Reign of God is very near! It is time to experience a change of thinking that is so radical that it will be evidenced in your life – the way you relate to God and others. I’m traveling all around healing people so that what I do is evidence that I have been sent by God with this message.
Do you know what kind of people enter into the Reign of God? People who don’t think too highly of themselves, who recognize that any talents, abilities, opportunities, or possessions they have are God-given. Those who get mistreated for doing the right thing. People who practice what they preach. You’ve heard of John the Baptist, right? That seemingly perfect prophet-type guy who probably makes you feel spiritually intimidated because of the authority he was given by God to introduce me to the world – Did you know that a person who is considered unpopular or unimportant by human standards is greater than John the Baptist in the Reign of God ? The kind of people who enter into the Reign of God live a life of love that puts religious leaders or religious experts and their so-called righteousness to shame. There are those who claim to act in my name, making an elaborate show of religion, but then they turn around and do and say things that I would never do or say. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is how people enter into the Reign of God.
When you pray, tell God that you are watching and waiting to discover how He is turning things around, how eventually, it becomes obvious that His will is being accomplished after all. The Reign of God on earth, as it is in Heaven – this is what really matters. A lot of people try to impose their own ideas about the Reign of God on others, to bring the Reign of God about in their own time and their own forceful way. There’s a long history of the human tendency to act this way about the Reign of God. But, things are changing. These people who use the Reign of God as a weapon are fighting among themselves, and eventually, the whole system will collapse. As it is, they accuse me of having evil powers – but I am doing away with evil! This is the beginning of the human race having their eyes opened to the Reign of God. The Reign of God is happening, right now, within you.
Some people equate the Reign of God to religion or to a particular church. Let’s compare the things that Jesus said about the Reign of God to the institutional church. I substitute the words “your church” or “church member” (here I reference local church as a cog in the machine of man-made institutions and organized systems of religion, not the God-ordained “ecclesia“) for the words “Reign of God” in the form of true statements, using Christ’s ideas as a pattern in the bullet points below.
- Your church is not a human system of order being run by human decision-makers. In your church, God is the decision-maker.
- The church members who are leaders typically have the humble nature of a child.
- A rich person will find it very difficult to be a member of your church.
- Becoming a church member may result in loss of popularity, wealth, or credentials.
- Your church is such good news that you want to (and do) talk about it all the time with anyone who will listen – coworkers, family, friends, strangers.
- The people who go to your church get mistreated for doing the right thing. (Please don’t confuse this with the all-too-common being mistreated for being a judgmental religious snob.)
- The leaders of your church practice what they preach.
- President Obama and Richard Dawkins are considered greater than John the Baptist in your church.
- The church members in your church live a life of love that puts religious leaders or religious experts and their so-called righteousness to shame.
- When you pray, you tell God that you are watching and waiting to discover how He is turning things around, how eventually, it becomes obvious that His will is being accomplished after all, because your church on earth, as it is in Heaven – this is what really matters.
- The human race is having their eyes opened to your church. Your church is happening, right now. Your church is within you.
Do you see the difference between the Reign of God and religion/church? If you do, then whether you attend church or not, whether you affiliate with a certain religion or not, you are the *ecclesia.
How do I know you are the ecclesia, just because you see the difference between the Reign of God and religion/church? Because, “If any one may not be born from above, he is not able to see the Reign of God” (Jesus – John 3:21). If you see it, you are born from above. In contrast, if you read the bullet list and get all flustered, you may not yet be “out from” the reign of humanity. Churchianity tends to create a dichotomy of church and “the world” (everything/everyone not church). But in reality, the world is just as present in the church as the ecclesia is present in the world.