The question I kept asking as I read Tom Wright’s new book, Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters, was this: OK, so God becomes King in Jesus and God exercises his sovereignty through Jesus, but what does that look like today? where is that to be found today? How close are kingdom and church? How is it meaningful to say Jesus is the Ruler of the World? I found this chp fascinating.
First, Tom contends vigorously, and he anchors this from Genesis 1 to Revelation, that God exercises his rule today through the church, through us.
Jesus rescues humans in order to extend his kingdom and rescue project through those who are rescued. We are not helping him; he gives this task to us. He called his followers to be his witnesses in Acts 1. It was through them that the gospel would go to the Roman empire. Tom develops the temple them in Acts.
Second, the vital action of the followers of Jesus in this kingdom work is to worship the one and only God, and worship is the most political action the Christians are to perform. They are also to do good works as the way to implement the rule of Christ in this world. The church has surrendered too much of this to the State, forgetting that it was the church that did these things over its history. [I wondered here if Tom would consider the implementation of these elements by the state as evidence of the church’s ministry and mission being successful.]
I would ask you: Where is the kingdom manifested today?
Third, this means Tom is one of the important voices today in seeing the significance of the church in the kingdom of God in this world today; it means he sees an ecclesial shape to kingdom. He has some wise words about how the media talks about the church and observes that it might be a 1000 to 1 ratio of folks doing good things vs. the one bad egg the media decides to squat on. The church, he reminds us, is the society of the forgiven and reconciled and not the society of the perfect.
This leads him to reflect a bit on how the kingdom is working today: in divinely-shaped order and not chaos; God’s bending of the will of those not living under his kingship; the need for the church to call leaders and rulers and nations to account and to bear witness to the rule of Jesus in this world.
Tom sees the kingdom at work wherever the will of God is being done.