Following Jesus

What Does It Mean to Live for God’s Kingdom?

February 5, 2019 by

As a member of a Christian community, I think that I, that each of us, is compelled to radiate peace, love, joy, and hope to a troubled world. Of course we fall short of our goal, but our vision is to live according to God’s kingdom, here and now. And we can testify that when individuals commit to one another, something happens that transcends human imperfections. Each of our lives is enriched by the lives of those around us. Yes, it is possible for people to live and work together. Yes, it is possible for marriages to last, for children to grow up in a wholesome environment, for the elderly to be cared for, to be surrounded by loved ones until they die. Community is a daily miracle. Bruderhof founder Eberhard Arnold described how this miracle can take place anywhere, when people seek to model in the present what they believe God can give in the future. This is an excerpt from a talk he gave in 1933:

In the coming kingdom of God, all crime, oppression, inequalities of birth or possessions, discord and war, joyless lack of love, and coldness will be banished. This is clearly the proclamation of the prophets. And in terms of time and space, the Old Testament prophets expected a reign of God in the present world as well as in the future. This reign should be manifest in the social sphere; that is, in the relationships of people to one another.

kids and adults from an intentional Christian community building an igloo

The apostolic truth of the early church originated in the message of the prophets. The apostolic message proclaims an embassy of the kingdom of God, living here and now. This embassy, the apostolic church, is not meant to represent the politics of the surrounding state of violence, but the order of the coming kingdom of God and of Christ. How can it do this? The church must be filled with the spirit of the future. It must take its world view, its purpose, its very existence from the coming kingdom. It is to live here and now according to the rules of the future kingdom. At the founding of the first church this truth became reality even in the smallest things through the pouring out of the Holy Spirit: The kingdom of God does not consist in eating and drinking, but in justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). Both the major and the minor prophets described this.

This seems to me to be the nature of every Christian church: Its present character must proclaim its future goal.
—Eberhard Arnold

Jesus said in his High-Priestly prayer that by perfect unity people would recognize who Jesus Christ is. Only in perfect unity can the Gospel be recognized and Christ proclaimed and represented. Such unity was given to the church filled with the Holy Spirit. There was unity in the proclamation of the One who was killed and rose from the dead, unity in the breaking of bread, in fellowship and prayer, and the teaching of the apostles. There was also unity in the community of “one heart and one soul,” – this community meant a completely new order in public and economic conditions, so that nobody said their property belonged to them. Therefore nobody among them suffered want. Love became a unity that proved itself as justice and at the same time was the fulfillment of the prophetic witnesses.

This seems to me to be the nature of every Christian church: Its present character must proclaim its future goal. The purpose of Christ’s Gospel is to tell us that now the kingdom of God has come close, now the life of justice should be established and proved in practical life.


About the author

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel, an author with a particular interest in Bruderhof history, writes a regular blog post featuring timely...

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