The kingdom of God was the major theme of Jesus’ ministry and His favorite description of what God is doing in the world. Jesus often began His parables by saying, “The kingdom of God is like …” In fact, the word kingdom is used more than 150 times in the New Testament.
As disciples of Jesus, we regularly pray “Thy kingdom come” and quote Matthew 6:33—“Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (KJV)—but most people really have no idea what that means. Particularly in democracies, people have a difficult time understanding the full implications of living under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ.
Where is the kingdom of God? Comprehensive theological studies have debated the complexities of this question for centuries, but let me suggest a simplified answer from Scripture: The kingdom of God is wherever Jesus is king! If Jesus is king in your heart, then the kingdom of God is within you (see Luke 17:21). Because Jesus is king in heaven, then the kingdom of God is also in heaven (see Psalm 103:19). While Jesus walked the earth, He used miracles to announce that the kingdom of God was with them (see Luke 11:20), and when the reign of Christ is fully realized on earth, then the kingdom of God is on earth (see Revelation 5:10).
What is the kingdom of God? It is the rule and reign of God! When we pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” we are praying a redundant statement. Whenever God’s will is done, the kingdom has come. The two phrases say the same thing. The reason we pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, KJV) is because God’s will is done perfectly in heaven but imperfectly on earth.
How do I live in the kingdom of God? That’s what this brilliant and practical book is all about. For six years a group of friends have been seeking biblical answers to that question, and this book is the result of all that hard work. It is a book that is desperately needed today.
One of the great problems in churches today is the perpetual immaturity of the members. Too many Christians grow old without growing up. It is possible to attend church your entire life and never grow into Christlike maturity. It takes far more than sermons to produce a disciple. For thirty years at Saddleback Church we’ve used an intentional biblical and sequential “catechism of life” to move people from immaturity to maturity, from “come and see” to “come and die” as Jesus did.
To live a kingdom life, we must love the Lord with all our heart (emotion), all our soul (volition), all our mind (intellect), and all our strength (physical body). We must grow in knowledge and perspective (knowing), conviction and character (being), and skills (doing).
This journey of spiritual formation is neither quick nor easy. It takes time, the Word, intentionality, discipline, community, and opportunities for ministry and mission. In The Purpose Driven Life I showed how it takes a balance of all five of God’s eternal purposes to grow to maturity: worship experiences, fellowship experiences, discipleship experiences, service experiences, and evangelistic sharing experiences.
Warren, Rick. 2010. “Foreword.” In The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation, edited by Alan Andrews, 7–8. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.