Remarkably and regrettably, the biblical concepts of “kingdom” and “calling” received scant attention in Christian churches in America during the 20th century.
There are some 280 references in the New Testament to phrases such as “the kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of heaven,” yet, apart from what my spiritual father taught me, I can’t recall hearing a single sermon over the past forty years that addressed this subject. Perhaps it’s my memory, but I don’t think so. My guess is your experience is similar.
I’m thus left wondering what kinds of answers we would get if someone did a “man on the street” interview with Christians, the question being “what is meant by the kingdom of God?”
As I’m now, with gladness, hearing references to “the kingdom of God” more and more frequently among marketplace leaders, several months ago I decided to read what is arguably the most definitive book on the subject, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God, by George Eldon Ladd.
This short, highly readable book addresses this very important subject in a three-dimensional way, with the primary definition of “the kingdom of God” being, not a territory or even a people, but the rule and reign of Christ, wherever that exists – beginning in the heart of the Christian.
As to the concept of “calling,” in May, 2017, I had the privilege of interviewing Os Guinness for our 2017 National Conference. Os, who in my opinion is one of the leading Christian philosophers of the last forty years, told me that some fifty years ago the notion of “calling” had almost disappeared from the pulpits of evangelical Christian churches in America, which I surmise he hoped to modestly remedy with his book, The Call.
Broadly speaking, every person who names the name of Christ is called to advance the kingdom of God. What’s more, every human being has been uniquely created and has a unique calling to fulfill that broader calling. Sadly, many, perhaps most, never discover what that is. Either they never give their lives to Christ, or they do but are never taught or shown that God has a unique calling for them.
We live in an increasingly purposeless, meaningless culture, the inevitable fruit of decades of failed philosophies such as secular materialism plowed into us through everything from education to entertainment. Yet the very purveyors of these failed philosophies are now shocked, shocked! (to quote Rick from the film Casablanca) at the meteoric rise in the number of suicides, drug addictions and overdoses, and cases of clinical depression.
They remind me of two high school teachers I worked with forty years ago. Both teachers were believers in and advocates for the unliveable axiom that no absolute truth exists (absolutely, of course!). One day they marched into the teachers’ lounge, complaining loudly about a particular student whom we all knew, a very bright young man who was as surly and rebellious as he was intelligent, who never seemed to miss a chance to break the rules.
As I listened to them agitate, I couldn’t help but look up from my book and comment (admittedly somewhat sarcastically), “when you inculcate the notion in students’ minds that there is nothing absolutely true, and thus nothing absolutely right or wrong, why are you shocked when they live it out?”
If looks could kill…
Here in Pinnacle Forum our mission is to help Christian leaders discover, embrace and live to their fullest the unique calling God has for their lives to advance the kingdom of God. Do you know what your kingdom calling is? If so, would you like to live it out with greater passion, clarity and excellence than you are now?
Then I look forward to corresponding with you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.