The kingdom theme is basic to our Bible. Jesus came preaching first that the kingdom or rule of God is at hand. It belongs to those who are poor in spirit and to those who suffer persecution for the cause of right. We are taught to pray for the coming of the kingdom on earth. We are called to seek first the kingdom, even more than peace of mind, physical health, or worldly success. We can expect to find it within us. Still we are to look forward to the day when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord.
As with most basic biblical themes, we have done most everything with this one. The message about the kingdom has been secularized by those who have identified it with ideologies, programs, institutions, and isms. It has been individualized by those who would limit it entirely to the inner recesses of the heart. It has been spiritualized by those who would remove it entirely to heaven. And it has been futurized by those who will not speak of it except in connection with the second coming of our Lord. Because liberals were so naively confident that they could roll up their sleeves and build the kingdom, most conservatives tend to relegate it entirely to another place or age. Because some have schematized it so as to know the exact hour of its arrival, others have dismissed all hope in its coming. Because some have forgotten the necessity of a deep personal commitment to it, others have eliminated the biblical themes of peace, righteousness, and justice from their hopes about the kingdom.