The kingdom of God is synonymous with the “kingdom of heaven; it is the “rule of an eternal sovereign God over all creatures and things” (Psalm 103:19; Daniel 4:3). The kingdom of God is a fundamental concept in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Jesus mainly taught about the Kingdom of God as the main message of his ministry and as the trophy for the righteous in the end of days. In addition, Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is for those who receive salvation and new birth through water and spirit (John 3:5–7 (NIV84)). In the new testament, the phrase "Kingdom of God" is mainly found in the books of Mark, Luke, and John; in addition, the phrase is also found in various writing styles such as parable, beatitude, prayer, miracle, story, and aphorism. However, the book of Mathew uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven," rather than the phrase "Kingdom of God." Nevertheless, the kingdom of God offers personal and social meaning by giving hope, through calling for repentance and giving regeneration; submission to God’s will and asking people to love one another (Harkness, n.d).
Jesus revealed that the kingdom of God is for all people of all nations who receive salvation and abide by his teaching rather than the kingdom of God as perceived by the Jews as belonging to them and their nation, Israel. This is revealed in many teachings of Jesus as in the following encounter: As in chapter 4 of John’s gospel, it speaks of Jesus encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well. The Samaritans and Jews did not associate freely due to deep-seated hatred. Jesus entered into a conversation with the woman, and by Jewish laws, he was not supposed to be with a woman private let even speaking. They discussed about water in the well and about drinking. Jesus also taught her about eternal water that will quench her thirst forever, signifying the kingdom of God.
Through the conversation, the woman eventually found confidence in Jesus and revealed her innermost soul to him. He then told her about her past life before going to fellow Samaritans and told them what had transpired. The Samaritans believed in her and invited Him to stay with them, something he did for two days. Through the stay, many Samaritans believed and confessed Jesus as the true savior of the world (Mueller, 2007, p. 4). This story clearly shows that the kingdom of God is universal and is for all humanity and not a specific nation or race or group, but those who believe and receive salvation. This teaching can really empower any person to live within moral teachings of Jesus in order to be accepted in the kingdom of God, despite his/her background.
Unlike other kingdoms such as worldly systems, the kingdom of God is founded on the principal of salvation and obeying God’s will. Other kingdoms use many criteria for acceptance into their system and are discriminative in application to the members. This can be illustrated by example below: According to Lasdun (2007), the janissaries of the Ottoman Empire captured Christian boys and trained them to fight against their own people, which they did with much bravely. This interesting class of warrior is described during a business lunch to Changez, the young hero of Mohsin Hamid's second novel, at a moment of crisis over his own identity. Born in Pakistan, educated at Princeton and currently the hottest new employee at a New York firm specializing in ruthless appraisals of ailing companies being targeted for takeover, Changez recognizes himself in the description "I was a modern-day janissary, a servant of the American empire at a time when it was invading a country with a kinship to mine ...."
Through the unfolding story there are many challenges for Changez to be accepted totally in all aspect of his new found home. These include changing or merging of fundamentalism and capitalism ways of life to be accepted as a new person, as it transpires in conversation between Changez and his American listener, Jim. The way he was treated after September 11 by colleagues, Erica, and community he was living in, his relationship with Erica is not completely free due to Erica’s attachment with her past through her former boyfriend Chris (Hamid 2008). These challenges make it difficult for Changez to find acceptance and peace in his new kingdom “America,” despite his qualifications, job, efforts, and social background, something, which can be compared to salvation and acceptance in the kingdom. Once there is salvation and acceptance in the kingdom of God, there are no other hindrance to achieving peace, happiness, and reward for being righteous. This can very much encourage a person to live morally as the reward is not discriminative; it is rather more of spiritual. (Romans 8:16, NIV84).
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The kingdom of heaven is also the basis of repentance as a fundamental concept. This is evident in various teachings of Jesus where he forgave, healed, and granted salvation after repentance. This is evident also in his many teachings through the parables, as evidenced in the parable of the prodigal son (LUKE 15:11-32). Here, the prodigal son wasted his inheritance through prodigal living in a foreign country and after suffering, he got courage to go back to his father and beg for pardon. His father welcomed him back, treating him like a son who had been lost and has returned, restoring, and even honoring him through a feast. This story teaches that, no matter what wrongs committed against the kingdom, there is room for repentance, acceptance, and restoration to the glory of the kingdom. This can motivate a person even after committing sins against others to try to find restoration through seeking forgiveness, thus leading to moral living.
In the kingdom of God, repentance and restoration accompany each other, but in worldly systems, this mostly does not happen as exhibited by the following example. While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Simon Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying member of the SS. Haunted by the crimes in which he had participated, the soldier wanted to confess and obtain absolution from a Jew. Faced with the choice between compassion and justice, silence and truth, Wiesenthal said nothing (Wiesenthal 1998). In this book, Wiesenthal raises several questions about repentance and forgiveness, which different people have responded to but with very varied convictions. Relating this story with Jesus’ teachings on the kingdom of God, there is profound revelation that it is easier to find forgiveness in the kingdom of God than in people encouraging a person to seek ultimate forgiveness when in wrong; even if not granted, there is hope for external forgiveness.
The kingdom of God is always within (LUKE 17:20-21) and there are other kingdoms (LUKE 11:18). This understanding can really empower a person to live morally, in pursuit of seeking the kingdom of God, through doing the will of God and loving one another.
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