On Thursday I’ll be attending an online learning event to hear from Brian Zahnd. Brian is pastor at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO. I’ve been reading about him (no so much reading “him” for a while. His name has come up. And, when the learning event was offered through Ecclesia, I signed on and have been browsing some Brian Zahnd material. I thought for the next couple of days I’d highlight some of his writing and offer a brief comment.
The following is from an interview that Brian Zahnd did with Trevan Wax over at the Gospel Coalition.
I remember telling my church eight years ago that seeing the kingdom of God has given me “new eyes.” Reading the Bible with “kingdom eyes” made Scripture brand new to me. I came to realize that the kingdom of God was virtually the sole topic of Jesus’ teaching ministry. The gospel of the kingdom is what the apostles were announcing in the Book of Acts. And even though Paul doesn’t use the term “kingdom of God” often in his epistles, I came to understand that what Jesus tends to call the kingdom of God, Paul tends to call salvation, but they’re talking about the same thing!
Back in 2006, I worked on a single question for several months: What is salvation? I finally concluded the best answer is this: Salvation is the kingdom of God. Our personal experience with the kingdom of God (including forgiveness) is our personal experience of salvation, but the kingdom of God is much bigger than our personal experience of it.
The problem we have today is that the term “kingdom of God” is archaic and obscured under layers of religious veneer. “Kingdoms” went out with the Middle Ages, and we tend to think of the “kingdom of God/heaven” as privatized Christianity experienced in our personal spiritual lives.
But Jesus was announcing that the government of God was at long last being established in the world through what He was doing. The apostolic gospel was a proclamation that Jesus is now the world’s true King; in light of this, we need to rethink our lives and begin to live under the administration of Christ.
This kingdom paradigm revolutionized my theology—soteriology, eschatology, ecclesiology, and political theology all had to be reworked under the rubric of the kingdom of God. So today when I make the seminal Christian confession “Jesus is Lord,” I’m not just expressing something about my personal spiritual life; I’m also making a revolutionary political statement. And that’s a game-changer!
The more and more I talk about, think about, pray about the Kingdom of God, the more I feel it’s giving me a language to communicate salvation in a way that makes sense. It’s about an alternative reality…now. It is both earthly and ethereal. I’m needing this.