I’ve heard of church (and para-church) mission statements and flyers that talk about bringing God’s kingdom to this city or that city by cleaning up neighborhoods, reforming city hall, and getting rid of gangs. While I’m certainly not against those things, I’d argue they are not “kingdom work.” I’m not comfortable with this type of language for several reasons (i.e. Heidelberg Catechism Q/A’s 83-85). Herman Ridderbos explains it well:
“[The] absolutely theocentric character of the kingdom of God in Jesus’ preaching…implies that its coming consists entirely in God’s own action and is perfectly dependent on his activity. The kingdom of God is not a state or condition, not a society created and promoted by men (the doctrine of the ‘social gospel’). It will not come through an immanent earthly evolution, nor through moral action; it is not men who prepare it for God. All such thoughts mean a hopelessly superficial interpretation of the tremendous thought of the fullness and finality of God’s coming as king to redeem and to judge.”
“Viewed from the human standpoint, therefore, the kingdom of heaven is in the first place something to keep praying and waiting for with perseverance. Its coming is nothing less than the great divine break-through, the ‘rending of the heavens’ (Is. 64:1), the commencement of the operation of the divine dunamis (power; Mark 9:1). The kingdom of heaven is, therefore, absolutely transcendent in its origin, it is the revelation of God’s glory (Matt 16:27; 24:30; Mark 8:38; 13:26, etc). That is why the doxology at the end of the Lord’s prayer in many manuscripts (‘for thine is the kingdom’) although not originally there, is still the most appropriate formula conceivable to conclude the ‘prayer of the kingdom.’ The kingdom is not only concerned with God, it also originates with him. Its coming is only to be understood on the basis of his miraculous and all-powerful action.”
In other biblical terms, we can say that just as farmer can’t make the seed grow, neither can humans usher in the kingdom of God (cf. Mk. 4:26-29).
The above quote was taken from pages 23-24 of Ridderbos’ The Coming of the Kingdom.
rev shane lems