Our World As God Would Have It

What is the kingdom of God? How might we experience it? Recently, in a conversation with a friend, he offered an interesting definition of the kingdom of God, describing it as ‘our world as God would have it.’ Our personal ministry focus within the Vineyard is primarily international, and it is evident to us that the world is often not as God would have it. Far too often it is scarred  by poverty, brokenness, and violence. The following story provides a glimpse into God’s kingdom work in our world.

Myriad storefronts and ramshackle dwellings, crowded with a cacophony of humanity, surrounded us as we wove our way through the rutted streets of Cebu City, Philippines, in route to the ‘mission house.’ We entered the concrete space, the ubiquitous ‘white vinyl, stacking chairs’ lining the room in preparation for the morning service. Filipinos, expats, missionaries, and visitors slowly congregated in friendly camaraderie, and soon began to sing in both English and Cebuano. We, both visitors and locals alike, were united in our shared experience of God’s dynamic presence invading our gathering as we worshipped the Prince of Peace.

After lunch we visited a barangay named Lorega. This slum, only steps from the mission house, had long been distinguished by poverty and violence with, until recently, many of its residents building their homes in the graveyard. After a devastating fire three months earlier, its denizens were now rebuilding, although still living in crowded plywood shacks without running water, electricity, sanitation facilities, or gainful employment. But what was truly surprising was to see so many familiar faces from church among its residents! Within the church community economic and social disparities weren’t in evidence. The wealthy and the poor, the educated and the illiterate, the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ became one as we worshipped together – a paradigm of ‘our world as God would have it!’

The Shalom Of The Kingdom

Walter Brueggemann’s exposition on the Old Testament concept of shalom (peace) connects it with the New Testament teaching on the kingdom of God expressed by Jesus in both his words and actions.

Jesus’ ministry to the excluded (see Luke 4:16-21) was the same, the establishment of community between those who were excluded and those who had excluded them. His acts of healing the sick, forgiving the guilty, raising the dead, and feeding the hungry are all actions of reestablishing God’s will for shalom in a world gone chaotic by callous self-seeking.

[bctt tweet=”Shalom…is the task and burden of the well-off & the powerful. They are the ones held accountable… -Brueggeman” quote=”Shalom in a special way is the task and burden of the well-off and the powerful. They are the ones held accountable for shalom. -Brueggeman”]

Shalom is about wholeness, prosperity, well-being, harmony, and goodness in the face of adversity. It is about when our world is as God would have it, everything is complete, all is as it should be, and nothing is missing. Our responsibility is to lean into shalom – the kingdom in our own lives – and to align ourselves with God’s work in the world. As Brueggerman argues: ‘Shalom in a special way is the task and burden of the well-off and the powerful. They are the ones held accountable for shalom’ (Brueggemann, Living Toward A Vision: Biblical Reflections On Shalom, p. 19).


Additional Articles in this Series:

1. Does Theology Matter?

2. The Kingdom Jesus Preached

3. Your Will Be Done

4. The Now of the Kingdom

5. Implications of the Kingdom

6. The Not Yet of the Kingdom

7. Shalom

8. How Do We Become Kingdom People?

9. Both/And

10. The Reign and Rule