It spreads like an infection or a virus. The smallest part can work its way through the entire system. It doesn’t happen by simple addition. It multiplies and multiplies and multiplies until it has fully, and finally, taken over. It is an invasion of something that breaks in from the outside and then completely takes over.
It may even be understood as a small seed that turns into an invasive plant. All it takes is for the seed to take root and then it grows into a large plant that is wild, spreading out of control. It starts off insignificant and unassuming, but then becomes extraordinarily invasive, taking over everything in its path. It towers upward and then spreads outward, growing profusely, replicating, and preventing anything else around it from taking root.[i]
Some may even understand it as yeast that is put into a batch of dough. All it takes is for the single-cell of yeast to be put in a moist environment and fed some sugar for it to begin multiplying rapidly. It doesn’t take long for this small amount of yeast to multiply and spread until it is completely worked through the dough.[ii]
These images capture the essence of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is an invasion. It is an infection. It is one small part breaking into the larger system, disrupting it, and taking it over. It is that which is with-out, breaking with-in our time/space reality and progressively and completely transforming it. It is heaven breaking into the created order and destroying the works of Satan until heaven and earth are finally joined together as one at the coming together, the consummation of all things at the return of Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom of God comes to life in Jesus. It is Jesus breaking into the kingdoms of the world, disrupting them by embodying the Kingdom of God with His life, death, and resurrection so His followers, who look and act like Him in everything they do, can continue to spread this Kingdom infection through their words and actions. The sole purpose of this invasive and offensive action by Jesus is to displace the ways, workings, and conventions of the kingdoms of the world with the Kingdom of God. It is God’s plan through Jesus Christ and the working of His Spirit to renew, heal, mend, and restore that which is fractured and broken by the devastating effects of sin. It is an offensive action to turn the kingdoms of the world completely upside-down, turning hate to love, violence to peace, injustice to justice, weeping to joy, fear to faith, and self-centeredness to selfless sacrifice.
The invasion of the Kingdom of God in Jesus is a full-on assault and overthrow of Satan and the powers and principalities of evil in this world, so as to establish the Reign of God throughout the entire created order. This Kingdom invasion is a complete toppling and overthrow of a rogue, fly-by-night kingdom that has worn out its welcome. It is a new reality that has broken into the tired, old, worn-out, predictable ways of the world and is replacing them with a new and higher way that offers love, healing, hope, and life to the fullest.
Quite literally, it is heaven breaking into every dimension of our world like an infection, like an invasive plant that is taking over and growing wildly, like yeast that is multiplying and multiplying and multiplying until it has worked its way through the entire batch. It is the in-breaking and uniting of that which had been separated and fragmented. It is the great marriage, the great uniting, the great consummation of the two, heaven and earth becoming one. It began in Jesus Christ and continues in you.
Even further, the Kingdom of God can be understood as a shepherd who brings together his flock in a pasture and constructs an ancient sheep-pen made of large rocks that encircle the entire flock of sheep. When it is time to let the sheep out of the pen, the shepherd removes a few rocks and passes through the opening before the sheep.The sheep then begin rushing through the opening, violently breaking out of the pen through the small open space, anticipating their freedom. They cannot escape from the sheep pen fast enough. The sheep break forth out of the small opening running into the freedom that the Shepherd has given them. The Shepherd creates a breach for the sheep and the sheep break out with great force and power. That is what the Kingdom of God is like. The follower of Jesus is like a sheep that breaks through the barriers and limitations of the kingdoms of the world, and runs forcefully behind the way of Jesus the Shepherd, who created the breach, so as to advance the Kingdom of God.[iii]
A follower of Jesus is an invader of every nook and cranny, every pocket, every square inch of hell on earth, taking it over and reclaiming it for heaven and taking back what is rightfully God’s. And this invasion reminds us of the most simple prayer of Jesus, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Yes, on earth as it is in heaven. Let the two become one. Let us be the means through which heaven begins its invasion of the kingdoms of the world.
The Kingdom of God is an invasion, a securing, and a reclaiming. It is not a defensive stance, but an offensive movement. It is not a group of people sitting around behind the walls of a church cowering in fear that the world is going to hell-in-a-hand-basket. It is not a bunch of people doubting or second-guessing what they ought to be doing in their lives or worrying about what other people think of their Kingdom lives. It is not a group of religious people sitting around a table voting whether or not God is in something or not, trying to determine if it makes logical or financial sense, or trying to hype something up for the amusement of their church. It is not a group of people satisfied with showing up at church on Sunday and then checking it off the list.
We do not realize the power of God that works through each of us as His people to destroy the works of Satan and extend His Kingdom. To make my point, if I asked you how Satan and the powers and principalities are defeated, you would quickly answer by saying, “By the blood of Jesus Christ through His death and the power of His resurrection.” If I suggested that there was more to it than that, you may call me a heretic. But look at what John writes in the twelfth chapter of Revelation:
Now have come the salvation and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. Revelation 12: 11
Can you imagine that! We join in on the offensive march against the Adversary and the oppressive forces of evil. Our testimonies of how Jesus Christ brought us out of slavery and captivity and into the glorious freedom of His Kingdom actually works to defeat the Accuser and to bring more people out of the kingdoms of the world and into His Kingdom. We are a group of people who have mobilized behind Jesus the Liberator, embodying and advancing the freedom of the Kingdom of God. We are those who are transformed by the redemptive work of God through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, and then who break out of captivity in power, invading the entire house and ransacking the kingdoms of the world for heaven. The gates of hell will not stand because these Kingdom people are on the offensive march and are bent on breaking down every stronghold and reclaiming what is rightfully God’s through our words, our lives, and our all.[iv]
Sent for the Kingdom
The preaching and living out of the Kingdom of God was the purpose for which Jesus was sent. He said it himself. As he was traveling throughout Galilee healing people and driving out the many demons that were afflicting, enslaving, and oppressing the people, the crowds continued to follow him. But when he began to leave for another town, the crowds protested his leaving. To this Jesus responded, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”[v]
The purpose for which Jesus was sent into the world was to preach and live out the Kingdom of God! To announce that the invasion has been initiated and it looks like His way and His life in everything we do! To announce that the greatest revolt in history is underway and those who join the revolution look like their leader in every single thought, action, and deed. To announce that God’s Kingdom has broken into the kingdoms of the world and it is overthrowing and replacing them with a new and higher way. To announce that the powers and principalities of evil have been defeated and the Reign of God has been initiated. To announce that the blind will finally see, the enslaved will be free, the debt will be paid, and the land will be reclaimed. To announce that all who have faith in Him will be empowered to extend the Kingdom of God throughout the world. To announce that the so-called wisdom and ways of the kingdoms of the world have been turned completely upside-down and replaced with the wisdom and ways of God. And this Kingdom is not just staying in one place. It is on the move. It is on the march. It is growing. It is spreading. It is infecting every person in every city and town around the world, and there is not one person, one group of people, or any one government or institution that can stop it! And we are the means through which God is extending it in the world! Praise God!
I am going to step on all of our toes here, including mine, but each one of us in the Church must understand that Jesus was not sent to create a cute little religion. He wasn’t sent to establish a group of “holier than thou” or self-righteous people. He wasn’t sent to start a country club with benefits for every member. He wasn’t sent to originate a fluffy, feel-good, superficial entertainment center that has to feed the world with sweet sugar puffs. He wasn’t sent for a group of people who say that they love Him but spend their time being lazy, apathetic, self-focused, and superficial. He wasn’t sent so that the religious argue, bicker, and divide over the exact interpretation of Scripture. He wasn’t even sent to fight culture wars against so-called “enemies.” All of that cheapens and waters down the central purpose of Jesus.
Jesus was sent to announce the greatest revolution in the history of the world and we have been invited to continue the revolution by following the charge of the leader! The people who are joining this revolution, who are spreading the infection, look, act, and behave like the one who is leading the charge.
Gone are the days of simply saying, “Yeah, well that is Jesus and we are not Jesus so we can’t be expected to live like him.” That is a lie straight from the pit of hell that we have believed for far too long. An idea like that is death. Yes, we are sinners saved by the grace of God, but we have been brought from slavery and into freedom by Jesus who paid the highest price for it. We have been renewed, transformed, and empowered by the very Holy Spirit of God to be the very Body of Jesus in the world today! The same God that created our entire existence from nothing and moves in the most mighty and miraculous ways ever known to mankind has given unspectacular YOU His power! We have been given the fresh breath of the Spirit and have been made into the new creation people who take up our crosses daily to follow the way of Christ in order to bring heaven on earth![vi]
We are the infected…spreading the Kingdom infection throughout the entire body of the world. We are the mustard seeds planted in the garden that are taking over the entire garden. We are the yeast working our way through the entire batch of dough…multiplying and expanding. So put away your cheap excuses, your tired arguments, and your helpless attitudes and join the KINGDOM REVOLUTION of those who are becoming the Body of Christ in the world today, destroying the works of Satan and bringing the Reign of God here and now in great anticipation of the fullness of the Kingdom of God at Christ’s return! And the Spirit cries out, “Rise, rise Body! Awaken from your sleep! Rise from the dead and come to Life!”
You just finished reading the seventh chapter of Unearthed: How Discovering the Kingdom of God Will Transform the Church and Change the World.
To read additional chapters:
If you are interested in receiving the accompanying study guide for Unearthed, put a request in the comment section below.
In celebrating 5 years since writing my first book, I will be posting a new chapter each week from Unearthed: How Discovering the Kingdom of God Will Transform the Church and Change the World. You can still get the book for free on iTunes here or you can buy it on Amazon here.
[i] Luke 13: 18-19.
[ii] Luke 13: 20.
[iii] In his book Jesus the Jewish Theologian Brad Young contends that Matthew 11: 12 was rooted in the understanding of Micah 2: 12-13 and can be more accurately translated as, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of [God] breaks forth and those breaking forth are pursuing [seeking] it.” The imagery of the Kingdom breaking out like sheep in a sheep pen led by the King was rooted in the Micah 2 passage.
[iv] The best translation of Matthew 16: 18 is from The Message which describes the Church as an offensive movement that is, “so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.” Gates are defensive structures not offensive weapons. The gates of hell will not stand because the Church is breaking down every strong hold.
[v] Luke 4:43.
[vi] 2 Corinthians 5: 17.