This Beautiful Mess: Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God

thisbeautifulmess.jpgRick McKinley's new book is out, This Beautiful Mess: Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God. Description: The kingdom of God has already broken into this world, but it is not yet fully here. Therefore, as kingdom dwellers, Christians live in tension: groaning from the brokenness of this world, but rejoicing with hope in the promise of God. This Beautiful Mess calls believers to live in the reality of His kingdom now! Not your family, not your culture, not even your church should define your view of existence — only your belonging to God's kingdom. Loving, touching, weeping, and rejoicing — it's all a part of making God's blessing of redemption known to a hurting world. Only when you practice His reign without inhibition will you begin to revel in the true gospel of grace and freedom.

In the book, McKinley contrasts the two 'gospels' as the Gospel of Jesus and the Gospel About Jesus and how not understanding this brings confusion.  You need to synthesis these two gospels to find the true sense of the gospel.  McKinley writes:

"If all we value is the salvation gospel, we tend to miss the rest of Christ's message.  Taken out of the context of the kingdom, the call to faith in Christ gets reduced to something less than the New Testament teaches.  The reverse is also true:  if we value a kingdom gospel at the expense of the liberating message of the Cross and the empty tomb and a call to repentance, we miss a central tenet of kingdom life.  Without faith in Jesus, there is no transforming of our lives into the new world of the kingdom."

This was very timely for me, I just preached Sunday on this very idea and I stated that there is 3 aspects to the gospel.  The Gospel of Jesus, the Gospel of Sonship and the Gospel of the Kingdom.  You can read/listen to the sermon Jesus and the Revolution – An Alternative Kingdom at Sermon Cloud.  (You can also listen to a lot of McKinley's sermons on the Kingdom there as well.)   The reality of this new Kingdom brings us to see three gospel perspectives:

1. Gospel of Christ: The announcement of this Kingdom is news, not advice. It is accomplished as an actual historical event. This is important because as news, we must accept it, we cannot earn it. It becomes 'grace' rather than what we can earn. Entering into the Kingdom is only by repentance and faith (Mark 1:15), forgiveness (Col 1:13-14) and a new birth (John 3:3, 5). When we are 'born again', we are born into the kingdom (John 3:1). Already/Not Yet – Today we accept this news by faith, but one day we will see. Today we have the Holy Spirit as a promise of the true Kingdom to come.

2. Gospel of Sonship: The reality of Jesus righteousness changes our identity. When we enter into the Kingdom, Jesus' kingly authority restructures every area of our life. We can have our identity eternally rooted in God, rather than the false 'messiah's' of our heart that will always disappoint and require us to earn our own identity. We become righteous because Jesus gives us His righteousness. Already/Not Yet – The very idea of Christians being simultaneously legally 'justified' and yet 'sinful' is based on the 'already but not yet' concept of the Kingdom of God. One day sin will no longer hold its power over us; we will be freed from its bondage.

3. Gospel of the Kingdom: As citizens of this new Kingdom, we live by Kingdom values. Inasmuch as we place our faith in Jesus the King, our identity changes because of what Jesus has done and this causes us to live life's motivated by Kingdom values. We become concerned with social justice, mercy and being a loving community reminder of God's redemptive plan to mankind. Already/Not Yet – We are called to be a 'city on a hill' a physical representation of God's redemptive work, seeking to restore the world from the consequences of the fall. Yet, sin remains, death, disease and the poor will always be with us until God comes and completes the restorative work in Act 6 of the drama.

It is through both these three aspects and understanding the Kingdom of God in the phases of human history (For example, unpacking the already/not yet of both earth/heaven today) that we start to understand the Kingdom of God.