The earliest Christians were all convinced that the coming of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah and the Savior of the World, was a game-changing event. Jesus himself said that he was bringing in the Kingdom of God, which is to say the eschatological saving activity of God. From the early Christian perspectives, the End Times began when Jesus showed up. This led early Christians to view life, not facing the past and working their way into the future, but rather facing the future and believing it was as bright as the promises of God. A Kingdom perspective meant looking at life from the angle of how God would finally resolve human history.
They believed that the old world, the old ways of doing things, were passing away. A new creation was dawning, in the first instance in the life of Jesus’ followers, but thereafter in the whole of creation as well. Keeping this perspective in mind, I asked the question in a series of short books that we’ll discuss below. How should we now view ordinary Christian life–working, playing, resting, studying, eating, relating, buying and selling, worshipping–from a Kingdom perspective?
What most surprised me is how little serious theological and ethical reflection had been done on these topics. It seemed that theologians and ethicists were not much interested in what we do in our day to day lives. I set out to remedy this problem by first writing a book entitled Imminent Domainto explain what the New Testament means by “the kingdom/dominion of God.” This in turn was followed by a book on perhaps the most important single topic, worship, entitled We Have Seen His Glory.
- What would it mean to worship knowing the Kingdom has come and is coming?
- What would it mean to worship with one eye on the horizon, thinking of how worship is done in heaven and will one day be done on earth at the return of Christ?
This, in turn, led to two more books entitled, Work. A Kingdom Perspective, and Jesus and Money. Quite naturally, having covered work, I moved on to rest and play. My publisher, Eerdmans suggested I do most of the rest of these ordinary life topics in that one book, which is how the book came to be titled The Rest of Life. This book covers rest and retirement, play, study, relating, sex, marriage and a few other related subjects.
Finally, I was desired to write a book on a New Testament approach, a Kingdom approach to spiritual formation entitled A Shared Christian Life. Throughout the series, I have also been concerned to say how a Wesleyan perspective affects our views on all these subjects. The lack of balance in our Christian lives, the lack of theological perspectives on so much of what we say and do during the week is an overriding concern which is addressed in these books.
You can read more about these topics in my “Kingdom Perspectives” blog series.