My friend is preaching this weekend in a place where they have heard it all before. She has been given John 3 as a text and has asked for some fresh ideas / language about “beginning to participate in the kingdom of God”.
I threw out the following three ideas but thought that a wiki-approach might be really helpful – I am a big fan of the collaborative approach.
- Look into “prolepsis” as an ancient literary device. Don’t let them tell you it was simply foreshadowing. Wolfhart Pannenberg talks about Jesus as a proleptic event.
So the church is not the kingdom. The church is NOT the kingdom come. The church does not usher in the kingdom (post-millennial). Only God can bring the kingdom.
The church is a response – a group of people responding to and imitating what was revealed in God’s proleptic event.
Jesus is a picture of how it will be when God comes in fullness.
- You could also pair this with something like Stanley Hauerwas in chapter 6-7 of “Peaceable Kingdom” where he says that the church (who he agrees is not the kingdom) is a group of people who live lives in such a way that they are worthy (have the right to) tell the story. We tell the story with our lives and this is crucial! … for the church is the world’s only opportunity for the world to figure out that it is the world! By showing the face of Christ we become like a mirror where the world sees itself AS the world (in contrast to Christ).
- you could focus on the fact that in the Bible, where it says that we are Ambassadors for Christ (reconciliation) that (according to seminary friends) the word ambassador is actually a verb. We are ambassador-ing – for that which we are VERBING is not our own work , it is God’s work and that which God alone has done (and can do). We are simply VERBING what has been done on our behalf – it does not originate with us or culminate with us … we simply play our part as ambassador-ings.
That is my 3 cents. Whatcha got?